Italy, like other Western European societies, observes the Feast of the Epiphany—Epifania in Italian—on January 6th in a special way. According to Christian tradition, this feast celebrates the arrival of the Three Magi at the stable in Bethlehem to offer newly born Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. This is the first “manifestation” (epiphany in Greek means “manifestation”) of Jesus as man and God to non-Jewish people. The occasion is an extremely important part of the Christmas festivities, and, as the 12th day of Christmas, concludes the Christmas-season celebration. In this month’s essay I want to make a change to the usual subject matter of these essays and write about an aspect of the Christmas season that is important to Italian culture. Since you will be receiving the January bulletin during the current holidays, I thought it would be interesting to describe this important festival that closes the Christmas season.
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