Epiphany 2019 and 2020
Epiphany is observed 12 days after Christmas. The actual date is January 6th, or in some cases, January 19th, for the Orthodox Church members who celebrate Christmas on January 7th.
This holiday is when Christians take the time to remember the Wise Men, who are also referred to as the Three Kings. These are the individuals in the story of Jesus’s birth who visited him on the night he was born.
History of Epiphany in Austria
In Austria, Epiphany is also when several local churches remember the time when Jesus was baptised. This baptism occurred when Jesus was approximately 30 years old, and this is also the time when he began to teach others about God. The term “Epiphany” actually translates to “revelation,” and a word that is used for both the visit from the Three Kings and Jesus’s Baptism. These are considered critical times when Jesus was revealed as an important person.
Who Celebrates Epiphany in Austria?
In most areas, including Austria, Epiphany is celebrated primarily by Orthodox Christians and Catholics. During this celebration, many members of these religions visit the local bakers to purchase a special pastry/cake that is called the “Roscon,” which means a ring-shaped roll. These are typically filled with chocolate or cream and decorated with a paper crown. These sweet treats are usually in the shape of a king, and you can wear the crown.
Another tradition for those in Austria who celebrate Epiphany is to create a special sign to place on their front door. The sign is written in chalk, and the message is a reminder of when the Wise Men visited baby Jesus. The sign typically includes the initials of the names given to the Wise Men – Balthazar, Melchior, and Caspar. These initials are placed between the current year ( for example, 20 C M B 16).
Additional Events on Epiphany in Austria
In Austria, the Sternsinger, or star singers, walk from one door to another in all the towns and villages in the country. This group typically consists of four children (three kings and the star person), as well as an adult who accompanies them on their journey. At each house, they sing a little song that shows their excitement for Jesus’s birth, bless the inhabitants of the house for the New Year, and often collect a small amount of money to give to charity. This is a custom that is organised by a Catholic youth organisation called Jungschar.
During this day, which is also considered the last day of the Christmas celebration, there are several other traditions in Austria that involve certain symbols and rituals. While carollers are venturing from one house to another in their area, many families also take down their Christmas tree and burn a giant bonfire. This is an especially joyous occasion for children, because, in addition to the tree being taken down, the children also get to “plundern” which means the raiding of the tree. This allows the children to gather all the ornaments wrapped in foil, cookies, and sweets that were used as decoration.
During this day, all government offices and schools remain closed. Most businesses are also closed, so make sure you have everything you need if you are planning to visit at this time of year.