Christians Around the World Mark Epiphany With Series of Celebrations

Pilgrims jump to catch the cross during a water blessing ceremony marking the Epiphany celebrations at Piraeus port, near Athens, Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022. Celebrations to mark the Christian holiday of Epiphany were canceled or scaled back in many parts of Greece Thursday as the country struggles with a huge surge in COVID-19 infections driven by the omicron variant. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Christians around the world on Thursday marked Epiphany, known as Three Kings Day for Catholics and the Baptism of Christ for the Orthodox, with a series of celebrations. The Catholic feast day of Epiphany recalls the visit of three Magi, or wise men, to the infant Jesus, and their sense of wonder at the encounter.

Pope Francis took advantage of that time to decry consumerism. He encouraged people to shake off consumeristic “tyranny” and crises of faith in lives and societies and instead find the courage to work for justice and brotherhood in societies dominated by what he called the “sinister logic of power.”

In his homily, Francis urged people to move past the “barriers of habit, beyond banal consumerism, beyond a drab and dreary faith, beyond the fear of becoming involved and serving others and the common good.”

In remarks from an Apostolic Palace window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, Francis later also noted holiday celebrations by other Christians and praised various Epiphany traditions. Parades were held in Spain the night before, and Orthodox believers watched swimmers plunge into icy waters despite the pandemic to retrieve crosses.

The country traditionally holds “cabalgata” parades the day before Epiphany in which the “Reyes Magos,” or Three Wise Men, ride on floats through major cities and towns across Spain. Children and adults alike leave their shoes out the night before and receive gifts from the three kings on Jan. 6.

– Ella Breedlove