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The 1969 revision of the General Roman Calendar made the date to some extent variable, stating: "The Epiphany of the Lord is celebrated on 6 January, unless, where it is not observed as a holy day of obligation, it has been assigned to the Sunday occurring between 2 and 8 January." It also made the Feast of the Epiphany part of Christmas Time, which it defined as extending from the First Vespers of Christmas (the evening of December 24) up to and including the Sunday after Epiphany (the Sunday after January 6).Lutheran, United Methodist and United Church of Christ congregations, along with those of other denominations, may celebrate Epiphany on January 6, on the following Sunday within the Epiphany week (octave), or at another time (Epiphany Eve January 5, the nearest Sunday, etc.) as local custom dictates.In the Septuagint the word is used of a manifestation of the God of Israel (2 Maccabees ).Alternative names for the feast in Greek include τα Θεοφάνια, ta Theopháneia "Theophany" (a neuter plural rather than feminine singular), η Ημέρα των Φώτων, i Iméra ton Fóton (modern Greek pronunciation), hē Hēméra tōn Phṓtōn (restored classical pronunciation), "The Day of the Lights", and τα Φώτα, ta Fóta, "The Lights".

John Chrysostom identified the significance of the meeting between the magi and Herod's court: "The star had been hidden from them so that, on finding themselves without their guide, they would have no alternative but to consult the Jews.Epiphany may have originated in the Greek-speaking eastern half of the Roman Empire as a feast to honor the baptism of Jesus.Around 200, Clement of Alexandria wrote that, "But the followers of Basilides celebrate the day of His Baptism too, spending the previous night in readings.In some Churches, the feast of the Epiphany initiates the Epiphany season, also known as Epiphanytide.In Advent 2000, the Church of England, Mother Church of the Anglican Communion, introduced into its liturgy an optional Epiphany season by approving the Common Worship series of services as an alternative to those in the Book of Common Prayer, which remains the Church's normative liturgy and in which no such liturgical season appears.

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