Epiphany is celebrated on 6 January in Vatican City to commemorate the journey of the magi, or wise men, who followed a shining star to visit the infant Jesus as recorded in the Bible. This holiday falls 12 days after Christmas Day.
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Vatican City is the centre of Roman Catholic Epiphany celebrations worldwide. It is the place where the pope himself appears in Saint Peter’s Basilica to give an annual Epiphany Day sermon.
There are also processions in and around the Vatican in Rome and throughout Italy. Many don medieval-style costumes as they walk to the Vatican, bearing gifts for the pope. This is to commemorate the giving of gifts to Christ by the Three Kings. Since the pope is thought to be the “vicar” of Christ on Earth, it is viewed as if it were giving gifts to Jesus symbolically.
You may also see people dressed up like the old woman of Italian fairy-tale fame called “La Befana”. She, along with the Three Kings, is responsible for deciding who is nice enough for presents on Epiphany and who gets a lump of coal instead. Some leave La Befana a glass of wine and some food to encourage her to leave them good gifts!