January 6, Theophany Day

January 6, the day of the Epiphany, is celebrated in the Eastern Rite in a different way to that which we know in the West. Indeed, the eastern churches celebrate on this day the Theophany, that is to say the manifestation of God to men, unfolding during several biblical events, including more particularly the baptism of Christ!

Discover the meaning, celebration and  traditions of the feast of the Theophany in the East! Pray with Hozana for the unity of the churches of the East and the West!


What is a Theophany?

The term “Theophany” comes from the ancient Greek: theos means God and phaines means to show oneself. Thus, the Theophany refers to a divine manifestation.

This term is used to characterize several major events of the Old and New Testaments: the revelation of God to Moses in the burning bush; the birth and worship of the Magi during the Epiphany; the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan, the Transfiguration, etc.

The Celebration of the Theophany in the East

In the eastern churches, on January 6, the feast of the Theophany takes place, celebrating the manifestation of God to men! The baptism of the Lord is celebrated more particularly on this day, during which we witness the greatest manifestation of the Holy Trinity: the heavens open, a dove appears and the voice of the Father is heard: “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17). By this revelation, we have the confirmation of the divinity of Jesus by the Father and the Holy Spirit.


The liturgy of the Theophany emphasizes the baptism of Christ, whose story is read during the celebration. The readings also lead to meditation on the meaning of Christian baptism, through the letter of Saint Paul to Titus: "He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life." (Titus 3:5-7)



Theophany Traditions

On January 6, the feast of the Theophany gives rise to rites rooted in the Eastern tradition. Christian churches, for example, bless houses and bodies of water. 


On the eve of the Theophany, the blessing of the baptismal waters takes place. Processions are carried out then the priest blesses the water by imposing the sign of the cross and by dipping the cross of Christ: this gesture symbolizes the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan. Then the priest sprinkles all the people with the blessed water! Baptisms also take place on this day, which is marked by fasting and prayer, as a sign of penance. 


Then, on the day of the Theophany, after the liturgical celebration, the priests carry out the blessing of the houses: a table is prepared the day before with a bowl containing the holy water, an olive branch used for the blessing, as well as a candle, an icon and the list of the members of the family, living or dead. The priest then blesses each room of the house and entrusts each of its members. Everyone also drinks holy water. This tradition thus brings the blessing of God on the house and places everyone under the gaze of God. 

Finally, during the Theophany, a blessing of the sea waters, rivers, springs and lakes takes place!

Pray with Hozana on the Theophany!

The feast of the Theophany on January 6 is an opportunity to join your prayers to those of Eastern Christians and to pray for the unity of the Church! On this feast of the "divine manifestation", also pray that everyone can meet Christ! Follow Hozana's beautiful prayer offerings:


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