Unlike in USA and UK, Ireland still marks the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord on January 6th. For many people it marks the end of the Christmas holidays, schools return and the Christmas decorations are taken down and the Christmas tress is put away.
The Feast of the Epiphany is the feast day that celebrates the revelation of God the Son as a human being in Jesus Christ. On this feast, Western Christians commemorate principally the visitation of the Biblical Magi to the Baby Jesus, i.e., his manifestation to the Gentiles. Originally this feast celebrated on the 6th of January, contained four great manifestations of Jesus, namely, the Nativity of our Lord, the coming of the Magi or the three kings, the Baptism of our Lord and the wedding at Cana. Eastern Christians still commemorate the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, seen as his manifestation to the world as the Son of God. It is also called Theophany, especially by Eastern Christians and is the main Christmas celebration for the Orthodox community and not December 25th.
"The light that shone in the night at Christmas illuminating the Bethlehem Grotto, where Mary, Joseph and the shepherds remained in silent adoration, shines out today and is manifested to all. The Epiphany is a mystery of light, symbolically suggested by the star that guided the Magi on their journey. The true source of light, however, the “sun that rises from on high” (cf. Lk 1: 78), is Christ.
In the mystery of Christmas, Christ’s light shines on the earth, spreading, as it were, in concentric circles. First of all, it shines on the Holy Family of Nazareth: the Virgin Mary and Joseph are illuminated by the divine presence of the Infant Jesus. The light of the Redeemer is then manifested to the shepherds of Bethlehem, who, informed by an Angel, hasten immediately to the grotto and find there the “sign” that had been foretold to them: the Child, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger (cf. Lk 2: 12).
The shepherds, together with Mary and Joseph, represent that “remnant of Israel”, the poor to whom the Good News was proclaimed. Finally, Christ’s brightness shines out, reaching the Magi who are the first-fruits of the pagan peoples."
- Word on Fire - Herod sees all from the confines of his ego, trying to make the world conform to his plans. The Magi look outside of themselves, looking for an order that they will conform to. By focusing their attention away from themselves, they are spiritually liberated to follow the star of Bethlehem. This is the liberation that Christ grants us. He allows us to escape the jail cell of our egos to join the liberating current of his love, leading us closer to eternal life.
- English Dominicans - One of the good things about travelling is that it both dislocates and disconcerts us. The unique combination of stress, boredom and expectation can reduce us to nervous wrecks but also open us to experiencing the world afresh. Not only do we travel to see 'new things', but by travelling we sometimes end up seeing things anew. Even things that we thought were familiar, we can see them as if for the first time when we return home, or when we think about them from far away
Of course in Ireland, to all the ladies out there, every blessing and enjoyment for Nollaig na mBan!