January 6th marks the beginning of Epiphany (Greek – manifestation or appearance) which celebrates Jesus “public” appearance on the world stage.
This begins with the story of the wise (magi or astrologers) “from the east” who are the first gentiles (non-Jews) to recognise Jesus. Epiphany also recalls the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry: his baptism, preaching his first sermons, calling his first disciples, his healings and acts of compassion and the initial conflicts with those opposed to his ministry because of his mixing with sinners, breaking taboos about who one may eat with and relate to and his concern for those regarded as unclean.
The last Sunday in Epiphany always focuses on Jesus’ transfiguration which both looks back to his baptism, when he was assured that he is God’s chosen one, the beloved; and forward to his death and resurrection in Jerusalem.
Epiphany ends with the Tuesday known in France as Mardi Gras (fat Tuesday) and observed in the Uniting Church as Pancake Day.