Today, all around the world, Christians (excluding orthodox churches) will be celebrating the Feast of the Epiphany, as well as the Twelfth Night - the conclusion of the twelve days of Christmas. Maybe that's why this headache of mine feels like 12 drummers drumming...lol!
For anyone who isn't familiar with the Feast of the Epiphany, it is also referred to as Three Kings Day, commemorating the epiphany, or manifestation/revelation of God made man in the Christ Child, to the three magi who followed the star of Bethlehem to His humble birth place. Most pictures of this visitation and manifestation depict the Christ Child as an infant when he was visited by Melchior, Balthazar, and Caspar who bore gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, publicly recognizing the divinity of Jesus, by way of these gifts. (The adorable Needle Felted Nativity-Three Wise Men pictured to the right are available from AmirahBellaDesigns** on Etsy)
While Christianity accepts the visit to the newborn from these "Kings from the East" as factual, biblical scholars believe that it may be more likely that these men may have numbered more than three, and rather than kings, may have truly been magi or the scientists and astronomers of the time. Whoever they were, and for whatever reason they arrived in Bethlehem, it was as a result of an extraordinary event that continues to serve as a commemoration of the revelation and acknowledgment of the Christ Child as a divine being.
The word "epiphany" comes from the Greek epiphaneia, which means "appearance" or "realization," and is commonly used today to describe a sudden, intuitive perception or insight into the essential meaning of something, often inspired by a commonplace event. Kind of like when you've been struggling to decide what to make for dinner and a commercial comes on TV for your favorite family restaurant (except on a deeper level!) Or you realize that the mysterious drip, drip, drip you've thought you've been imagining all morning is actually a broken pipe in your wall rather than a leaky faucet somewhere. (Yes, I've had that happen!)
Jess' Epiphany 6x8 by freeplaycraft **
In addition to its relationship to the Twelve Days of Christmas, the celebration of Twelfth Night is also the culmination of the pagan/Celtic season of festival and merrymaking which begins on Samhain. This time of celebration also provided the setting for one of William Shakespeare's most popular comedies, The Twelfth Night or What You Will, in which the heroine, Viola, takes on the identity of her missing twin brother and is caught up in the comical web of events which force her to maintain both her own identity and her assumed identity - until her brother returns.