This observance commemorates [[Jesus Christ|Christ]]'s [[baptism]] by [[John the Forerunner]] in the River Jordan, and the beginning of Christ's earthly ministry. The Feast of Theophany is the culmination of the Christmas Season, which starts on [[December 25]] and ends on [[January 6]]. In mystic commemoration of this event, the [[Great Blessing of Water]] is performed on this day, and the [[holy water]] so blessed is used by the local [[priest]] to [[Blessing of homes|bless the homes]] of the faithful.
The feast is called ''Theophany'' because at the baptism of Christ the [[Holy Trinity]] appeared clearly to mankind for the first time
-- the [[God the Father|Father]]'s voice is heard from [[Heaven]], the [[Son of God]] is [[incarnation|incarnate]] and standing physically in the Jordan, and the [[Holy Spirit]] descends on Him in the form of a dove.
This feast is also sometimes referred to as ''Epiphany'' by English-speaking Orthodox Christians, but that name more properly refers to the Western Christian feast falling on that same day and commemorating the visit of the Magi to the child Jesus. The term ''epiphany'' does appear in some of the service texts for this feast, however.
Originally, there was just one Christian feast of the
''shining forth of God to the world in the human form of Jesus of Nazareth ''. It included the celebration of [[Nativity|Christ's birth]], the adoration of the Wisemen, and all of the childhood events of Christ such as [[Circumcision of our Lord|his circumcision]] and [[Presentation|presentation to the temple]] as well as his baptism by John in the Jordan. There seems to be little doubt that this feast, like Easter and Pentecost, was understood as the fulfillment of a previous Jewish festival, in this case the Feast of Lights.
==Celebration of the feast==
The services of Theophany are
set up exactly as those of the [[Nativity]]. Historically the Christmas services were established later.
The [[Royal Hours]] are read and the [[Divine Liturgy]] of St. [[Basil the Great]] is served with [[Vespers]] on the eve of the feast. The Vigil is made up of Great Compline and [[Matins]]
The Liturgy of the feast begins with psalms of glorification and praise instead of the three normal [[Antiphons]]. And the baptismal line from [[Galatians]] 3:27
once again replaces the [[Trisagion|Thrice-Holy]].
:''For as many as been baptized into Christ have put on Christ: Alleluia.''
gospel]] readings of all the services tell of the Lord's baptism by John in the Jordan River. The [[epistle]] reading of the Divine Liturgy tells of the consequences of the Lord's appearing which is the divine epiphany.
Since the main feature of the feast is the blessing of water. It is prescribed to follow both the Divine Liturgy of the eve of the feast and the Divine Liturgy of the day itself. But most local parishes do it only once when most of the parishioners can be present. The blessing verifies that mankind, and all of creation, were created to be filled with the sanctifying presence of God.
== Hymns ==