In the 1950ies and 60ies January the 6th was a “holy day”, being called “Drie Koningen” or “Three Kings’ Day” or “Epiphany” (from Greek epiphaneia, “manifestation”), or “Theophany”.
In the Catholic Church it was and still is a day that they remember or commemorate the first manifestation of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, represented by the Magi, and the manifestation of his divinity, as it occurred at his baptism in the Jordan River and at his first miracle, at Cana in Galilee.
Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans, and other Western churches observe the feast on January 6, while some Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate Epiphany on January 19, since their Christmas Eve falls on January 6.
Who were the Magi?
The word “Magi ” is in the Greek Magoi; hence, magic, magician, etc. Those thus described were originally a caste of priests among the Medes and Persians; holy men of the East.
The first mention in history is said to be in Jeremiah xxxix. 3, 13, where the name Rabmag means the Chief of the Magicians. Eventually the Magians degenerated into mere jugglers and wonder-workers, of whom probably Simon (Magus) (Acts viii. 9) was one. The word does not occur in the New Testament record of the visit of the “Wise men of the East”, but in other literature the name is used to describe these men. Where they came from is not certainly known. The East is a vague term. What revelation had been made to them none can say; but they had seen and understood the significance of the moving star, and followed it till it stayed “over where the young child was”. If their journey was long, the revelation must have been made to them before the birth of the child.
The tradition that the Wise Men were kings arose in the Second Century, and was no doubt founded upon passages such as Psalm lxxii. 10 and Isaiah xlix.7. Later, names were given to these “Kings”, and they figured in picture, story and religious play as Melchior, Kaspar, and Balthasar. The Scripture gives no warrant for limiting their number to three.
The “Church” still honours them at the Feast of Epiphany as the first of the Pagans to whom the birthof Christ was announced.
C. A. Ladson
Please read also