The Liturgical Colors of Epiphanytide
“The liturgical colour of Epiphanytide is white – to signify joy.”
Those with a keen eye for liturgical colors will observe an experiment this January. We will use white rather than green during the first weeks of Epiphany. The Anglican Church refers to this period as Epiphanytide.
Why? In the past, Epiphany has signified for many just “one element in the story of Christ’s birth,” namely, the visit of the magi. The color of the season following the celebration of this event has been the green of “ordinary time,” our summer and fall Sundays following Pentecost. But the Church has begun to embrace a more generous approach to the Christmas season and a richer interpretation of the season we call Epiphany. A 2006 publication by Church House Publishing (Church of England) describes this approach:
“The season of joyful celebration that begins at Christmas now continues through the successive Sundays of Epiphany, and the festal cycle ends only with the Feast of the Presentation . . . . [on February 2]. The child who has been manifested to the magi at his birth is now recognized by Simeon and Anna, when he comes to be presented in the Temple according to the Law of Israel. He is both ‘a light to lighten the Gentiles’ and ‘the glory of God’s people Israel.’”
We will signify the continuation of our “joyful celebration” this year by using our celebratory color, white. Following the Feast of the Presentation on February 2, we will return to green for one Sunday, February 4, then use white on Sunday, February 11 to observe the final Sunday of Epiphany. Ash Wednesday this year falls on February 14.
If you are one of those with a “keen eye,” please share your reaction to this trial change by speaking with one of the clergy.
For the information quoted in this note, thanks to Church House Publishing and to the Parish of St. Clement and St. James, http://www.stclementjames.org.uk/2013/12/23/epiphany-epiphanytide/
The Rev. Paul L. Gaston