Also, known as Baptism of Jesus, Three Kings' Day, Theophany
Epiphany is celebrated 12 days after Christmas on 6th January (or January 19th for some Orthodox Church who have Christmas on 7th January) and is the time when Christians remember the Wise Men (also sometimes called the Three Kings) who visited Jesus.
The Twelfth Night (Epiphany) also marks a visit to the baby Jesus by The Magi, (the three Kings, or Wise Men). The word 'Epiphany' comes from Greek and means 'manifestation'. It celebrates 'the revelation of God in his Son as human in Jesus Christ'.
For many Protestant churches, the season of Epiphany extends from January 6 until Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. The last Sunday of the Epiphany is celebrated as Transfiguration Sunday.
Others, including the Catholic church, observe Epiphany as a single day. Some Catholic dioceses in the US mark the Epiphany feast on the Sunday after January 6. Orthodox Christians, however, celebrate the holiday on January 19 each year.
In many Western Christian Churches, the eve of the feast is celebrated as Twelfth Night. The Monday after Epiphany is known as Plough Monday. Epiphany, or the 12th day of Christmas, falls on January 6 and marks the official end to the festive season for many Christians.
Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida Observations
In Louisiana, Epiphany is the beginning of the Carnival season, during which it is customary to bake King Cakes. It is round, filled with cinnamon, glazed white, and coated in traditional carnival color sanding sugar. The person who finds the doll (or bean) inside the cake must provide the next king cake.
The interval between Epiphany and Mardi Gras is sometimes known as "king cake season." The Carnival season begins on King's Day (Epiphany), and there are many traditions associated with that day in Louisiana and along the Catholic coasts of Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. King cakes are first sold then Carnival krewes begin having their balls on that date, and the first New Orleans krewe parades in street cars that night.
Tarpon Springs, Florida is known for elaborate religious ceremonies related to the Greek Orthodox Church, the most notable being the Epiphany celebration which is celebrated on January 6, not January 19. The blessings conclude with the ceremonial throwing of a wooden cross into the city's Spring Bayou, and boys ages 16 to 18 diving in to retrieve it. Whoever recovers the cross is said to be blessed for a full year.
Following the blessings, the celebration moves to the Sponge Docks where food and music are made part of the festivities. Tarpon Springs has given itself the nickname Epiphany City. The celebration attracts Greek Americans from across the country, and the city's population is known to triple in size for that day.
Epiphany has been observed by many people along the Gulf Coast for centuries and marks the transition from Christmas to other festivities important to Christians.