Epiphany 2018 and 2019
The feast of Epiphany comes every 6 January, the traditional date of several events of importance to the Christian faith: the arrival of the Wise Men in Bethlehem, the Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist in the Jordan River, and the marriage celebration Jesus attended in the town of Cana. In 2018, Epiphany falls on a Saturday.
The word for Epiphany in Finnish is “loppiainen,” which literally means “end of Christmas.” However, Finns actually continue to celebrate the Christmas season up to 13 January, which is the last day of Scandinavia’s traditional “20 days of Christmas.”
In Finland, Epiphany is celebrated by attending special church services, most of them attending an Evangelical Lutheran Church. White is the official liturgical colour for the day, and it is traditional for six lit candles to be put on the altar. In Finland, the message will typically focus on the Wise Men’s visit rather than Jesus’ baptism or the marriage in Cana. It will also usually have a theme regarding Jesus’ revelation to the world and missionary work since the Three Wise Men were Gentiles.
Tourists in western Finland will find that most shops are closed for Epiphany, while in Eastern Finland, they are open to take advantage of the tourist rush. Throughout Finland, public transport will run on reduced schedules, so travelers need to be aware and plan ahead.
Things to do in Finland for Epiphany include:
- Attend Epiphany services in a Finnish church. See if you can get an interpreter to attend with you, of if you are practicing Finnish, listen closely and bring a notebook. But also notice the white vestures, the six candles on the altar, and sound of Finnish music. If you attend a historic or large church building, learn of its history and architecture as well.
- Enjoy a Finnish Epiphany meal. Pea soup, cabbage rolls, chicken stew, injera flat bread, sweet honey-yeast bread, lentil soup, and yataklete kilkil, a kind of vegetable soup, may all be on the menu at a local restaurant. But especially be sure to pick up some piparkakut, star-shaped gingerbread cookies, at a local bakery. It is traditional to make a wish, break the cookie in your palm, and count the pieces. If it broke in three piece, your wish is sure to come true.