Orthodox Epiphany Date: January 19
Coptic Epiphany is a religious observance for Orthodox Christians all over the world.
Epiphany is one of the seven major feasts of the Coptic Orthodox Church. The epiphany signifies the appearance or manifestation of God to man through Jesus Christ. For Orthodox churches it is the celebration of the baptism of Jesus; for Western Christians it is the Feast of the Magi.
History of Coptic Epiphany
The Coptic Orthodox Church refers to mainly the Orthodox Egyptian Christians following the teachings of the school of Alexandria. It is primarily the same as the Western and Orthodox churches with differences only to what is the true nature of Christ. The feast of the Epiphany is celebrated by the Coptic Orthodox Church as the moment when in the baptism of Jesus the skies opened and God himself revealed to all as father of Jesus and all mankind. It is then a moment of revelation of epiphany.
This celebration started to include all the processes of incarnation of Jesus, from his birth on Christmas until his baptism in the river Jordan. Most of this time period isn’t told in the Bible and remains as the hidden life of Jesus. Even so, there are moments of revelation like the birth and the visit of the Magi as well as childhood events like when Jesus became lost in the temple by the parents.
The baptism of Jesus exists as the most important of these moments since it is the moment when not only God reveals himself as father, but also Jesus is revealed as the son. A dove appears as a revelation of the Holy Spirit, so the holy Trinity are for the first time revealed in a single moment that is the baptism of Jesus in the river Jordan. For the Coptic Orthodox Church it is also a moment in which the path of Jesus to the Cross begins. Therefore, in many celebrations there are certain similarities with the celebrations of Holy Friday during the time of Easter.
Coptic Epiphany Traditions, Customs and Activities
Since the Epiphany is one of the seven great feasts of the Coptic Orthodox Church, it is a day of strict fasting, and several religious celebrations are held on this day. The day is related to the blessing of waters that are used all throughout the year in the church celebrations, and it is a privileged day to celebrate baptisms. It is also a day in which many houses are blessed with water. It may take several days for the local priest to bless all the houses of the parishioners that ask for it, and so the blessing of the houses may go into the afterfeasts of the Epiphany celebrations. However, it must be done before the beginning of Lent.
It is a day also that in many Coptic communities there are organized processions with the Holy Tabot, a replica of the tablets of law that had the commandments written by God and given to Moses. Aside from religious celebrations, it is also a day that is spent with family and friends, following the strict rules of fasting and moderation appropriate of the season but also in a joyous environment, rejoicing the small daily revelations of God.