Church of England
The Church of England has observed an Epiphany season since the adoption of the Common Worship calendar and liturgies in 2000. The Epiphany season begins at Evening Prayer on the Eve of the Epiphany (which may be celebrated on 6 January or the Sunday between 2 and 8 January) and ends at Evening Prayer (or Night Prayer) on the Feast of the Presentation (which may be celebrated on 2 February or on the Sunday between 28 January and 3 February). The Epiphany season is seen as a continuation of the Christmas season, and together they last forty days. The three events focused on during the Epiphany season are the visit of the Magi, the baptism of Jesus, Jesus's miracle at the marriage at Cana. The visit of the Magi is traditionally interpreted as symbolic of God's revelation of himself to the Gentiles, and so one of the themes of the season is mission. The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity also falls within the season, allowing another seasonal theme to be that of unity. The season culminates at the Feast of the Presentation, after which the liturgy stops looking back to Christmas and begins looking forward to the Passion. The colour for the season is white.
The Christingle Service is a service of candle lights and can be held during Advent, Christmas or Epiphany. The word 'Christingle' refers to the candle used in the Christingle service. The Christingle is an orange, decorated with a red ribbon, sweets and nuts, in which is placed a small candle. The orange represents the world, the ribbon Christ’s blood, shed for all creation. The sweets and nuts skewered on four cocktail sticks facing out to the four corners of the earth represent the fruits of the earth. The candle in the centre of the orange represents the light of Christ to the world. Christingle has its origins in a children's service held on Christmas Eve 1747 in Marienborn, Germany. Bishop John de Wattville who was conducting the informal service gave each child a lighted candle, tied with a red ribbon, in memory of the Christ's coming which he said had kindled 'a flame in each heart which keeps burning to His joy, and our happiness'. In 1968 the Church of England Children's Society adopted this service as a way of raising funds during the season of Advent.
On the day of Epiphany, January 6, the Lutheran Church celebrates the revelation of Christ to all nations as represented by the magi who come to worship Jesus. The church calendar recognizes the season of Epiphany from January 6 until the last Sunday before Ash Wednesday which is celebrated as the Transfiguration of our Lord. The length of the season of Epiphany varies and is determined by working backwards through the season of Lent from the moveable date for the celebration of Easter. Among the principal themes are: the revelation of Christ to all nations, Jesus' baptism in the River Jordan, and Christ as the light of the world. The colours of the season are white (a colour associated with the festivals of Christ and suggesting gladness, joy and light for the day of Epiphany), used the first week after the Epiphany when the Baptism of our Lord is celebrated, and the last week of the season of Epiphany when the Transfiguration of our Lord is celebrated; and green, reminiscent of living plants and suggests spiritual growth. Green is used in the season of Epiphany beginning with the second week after the Epiphany until the week before the Transfiguration of our Lord is celebrated.
Roman Catholic Church
Until 1955 the feast of the Epiphany had an octave, and was therefore celebrated from the vigil mass on 5 January until 13 January. When the Epiphany fell in the middle of the week and was a holy day of obligation, its importance as the commemoration of the “manifestation” of the Messiah was underscored. The pre-1970 liturgical calendar recognized the significance of the Epiphany by designating “Sundays after Epiphany” between the conclusion of the Christmas season and the beginning of pre-Lent, thus stretching out the Church’s meditation on the Epiphany over several weeks. Now, Epiphany is succeeded by the feast of the Lord’s Baptism, after which the liturgical period known by “Ordinary Time” begins.
Pope Benedict XVI in his book, Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives discusses a number of the images related to the Epiphany story. If the Wise Men were led by a star to find the newborn king of the Jews who is in truth the universal savior, Benedict tells us, “this implies that the entire cosmos speaks of Christ, even though its language is not yet fully intelligible to man in his present state.” The “language of creation” points us toward the truth about the Creator, which is that God who creates is also God who redeems.
Revised Common Lectionary
In some adaptations of the Revised Common Lectionary, used by many Protestant denominations, the Epiphany season begins on January 6, and continues until the day before Ash Wednesday (which begins Lent). The last Sunday of Epiphany is Transfiguration Sunday.