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And on the Twelfth Day of Christmas

Christians, especially those on the continent, celebrate the Epiphany on the 6th January on the twelfth night of Christmas. Epiphany means ‘manifestation’ which means showing or a special insight into the meaning of something. Some Christians celebrate the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist whilst many celebrate the visit of the magi to the baby Jesus. In the Christian Calendar Epiphany ends on Shrove Tuesday.

For many Epiphany is about the visit of the magi or wise men from the East who come to visit Jesus bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and Myrrh. The story, which is recorded in Matthew’s Gospel, does not tell us how many magi came to visit the new born baby but it does refer to the three gifts and that the magi came from the East.

The gold is a gift usually given to royalty: frankincense is burnt as an offering to God and myrrh is used to ease pain and as an embalmer of the dead.

The message of Matthew is about the divine (frankincense) birth of Jesus who was a king (gold) destined to die as a human (myrrh) but the fact that the kings came from the East and were not Jews tells us that Jesus was good news for all the world.

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