Throughout the history of Christianity, Epiphany has been about many things and it has been about one thing.
About many things…
In the East, there has long been a connection between Epiphany and the Baptism of Jesus, when the Spirit descended in the form of a dove. In the West, we tend to focus instead on the coming of the Magi, who followed a newly appeared star and brought gifts to Jesus. In fact, in Spain and much of Spanish-speaking Central and South America, today is known as El Día de los Reyes (The Day of the Kings).
Building on the story of the Wise Men, Epiphany is also worth celebrating because those non-Jewish gift-givers represent all of us Gentiles whom God came to save in Jesus. And one final meaning: a connection has often made between Epiphany and the Wedding Feast of Cana, where Jesus began his public ministry by performing his first miracle–turning water into wine.
About one thing…
However Christians have remembered Epiphany throughout history, we have always remembered and celebrated together the revealing of God in Jesus, who is very God and very Man, the Light of the World. As Isaiah first put it and then Matthew repeated…
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.
A Prayer for Epiphany
(An Eastern Orthodox Post-Communion Prayer for Christmas Day)
Thy Nativity, O Christ our God,
Has shown to the world the light of wisdom.
For by it those who worshipped the stars,
Were taught by a star to adore Thee,
The Sun of Righteousness.
And to know Thee the Orient from on high,
O Lord, Glory to Thee!