For most of us Christmas was celebrated on the 25th of December. However, Orthodox Christian communities across Europe, Africa and the Middle East marked Christmas on January 7 with their unique traditions according to the Julian calendar.
How many people celebrate?
There are roughly 100 to 200 million Orthodox Christians world over. Russia has the highest number of 350,000 Orthodox Christians population.
Some interesting facts
The three Kings – Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar represented Europe, Arabia and Africa respectively.
Hundreds of years ago, roast lamb was traditionally served at Epiphany in honour of Christ and the three Kings’ visit.
Whoever finds the small statue of a baby Jesus hidden inside their slice of the Rosca de reyes throws a party on Candlemas in February.
In some European countries, children leave their shoes out the night before to be filled with gifts, while others leave straw for the three Kings’ horses.
According to Greek Orthodox Church’s traditions, a priest will bless the waters by throwing a cross into it as worshippers try to retrieve it.
In Bulgaria too, Eastern Orthodox priests throw a cross in the sea and the men dive in – competing to get to it first.
In Venice a traditional regatta that started as a joke in the late 70s has been incorporated in the celebrations of Epiphany Day.
In Prague, there is a traditional Three Kings swim to commemorate Epiphany Day at the Vltava River.
In New York, El Museo del Barrio has celebrated and promoted the Three Kings’ Day tradition with an annual parade for more than three decades.
The day’s activities involve singing holiday carols called aguinaldos.