I love the word "epiphany." In fact, it's my Rock Band Mii name. When Chris was younger, I was a member of a listserv for parents of preemies called preemie-child. A very young mom named Brooke had a 23-1/2-weeker named Epiphany, and I've always loved that as a name. I often wonder what happened to them.
Epiphany comes from the Koine Greek (τὰ) Ἐπιφάνια, epiphania and means "appearance" or "manifestation." It's. a Christian feast day that celebrates the visit of the Magi to baby Jesus. In the religious calendar, it's the end of the Christmas season (or the 12th day of Christmas).
In my original and current families, we've always celebrated Christmas through Epiphany (and beyond!) by keeping up all of our Christmas decorations, including the tree. My mom used to like keeping the tree up through January! I've never understood people who are desperate to get their Christmas decorations down the day after Christmas. This morning we mentioned taking the tree down eventually, and Nicholas protested mightily. He's our little Christmas maniac, so he'll never want it down.
In Mike's family, they adopted the South American tradition of leaving their shoes under the Christmas tree for the kings to fill with gifts. We've carried on this tradition, and this morning our shoes were magically filled! The kids love this, of course.
Then there's the wonderful second meaning of the word: "A sudden manifestation of the essence or meaning of something," or "a comprehension or perception of reality by means of a sudden intuitive realization." I think it's one of my favorite words, in fact. Here are some quotes about little epiphanies to illustrate that fact (interestingly, both about nature, which abounds with epiphanies):
“Nature poets can't walk across the backyard without tripping over an epiphany” --Christian Wiman
"My whole life had been spent waiting for an epiphany, a manifestation of God's presence, the kind of transcendent, magical experience that lets you see your place in the big picture. And that is what I had with my first compost heap." ~ Bette Midler