Christians all over the world will celebrate the Day of the Epiphany on Saturday, January 6 (celebrated on the same date each year). For Christians, Epiphany is a day and a season of the church year.
In the Eastern Church, Epiphany Day commemorated Jesus’ birth, baptism, and His first miracle. When the Western Church set the celebration of Christmas to December 25, the visit of the wise men took the shining light of Epiphany.
We don’t know a lot about these visitors from “the East” except that they were most likely from in and around Persia (modern-day Iran). These wise men would have been very educated with many learning everything from astrology to medicine and religion.
We don’t know how many wise men, or magi, made the trek to give gifts to the true King, but we do know what their gifts were and how the Church has traditionally recognized what each gift symbolizes.
Gold is a gift fit for a king. When you think of ornate palaces of old, gold is most likely part of that vision. We know that part of Jesus’ sacrifice for us was to not live as a typical king here on Earth. As we look toward the promise of the resurrection, we look forward to worshipping the True King in all of His glory.
A good way to remember the classic purpose of Frankincense is by looking at its name. Frankly, it’s incense. Many point to its use in honoring gods and would say that the magi were recognizing Jesus’ deity.
Myrrh has been used in different ways, but each of those ways is usually connected to death. Myrrh could be burned as incense, but also was often used in embalming. This gift reminds us that, even with the joy of the Christmas season and Epiphany, Jesus had a road ahead that led to the cross.