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What January 6 Actually Means

Amid the vitriol over last year's events, we've forgotten that January 6 is also Epiphany.

"Adoration of the Magi" by Peter Paul Rubens. Wikimedia Commons

Tomorrow is the first anniversary of our ruling class’s favorite talking point: January 6.

It’s a bit ironic, when you think about it, that the people most intent on harping on January 6, 2021 are the same ones who claim to have been so traumatized by the day’s events, by the exploits of those crazed Trump voters who ackshually staged a coup. If January 6 is all that the left says it is, you would think they would want to forget it, while that the “insurrectionists” would glory in remembering their exploits. Instead, the opposite is true—which should tell us something about why the left keeps going on about it.

Regardless, the obsession with whatever happened at the U.S. Capitol a year ago tomorrow is doing something worse than make a fool of the offices of the president and vice president, as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris prepare to deliver remarks in sacred observance of that “dark day” which has become the newest and holiest state holiday. Indeed, their religious remembrance of the supposed insurrection has overshadowed an important holiday in the Christian liturgical calendar, the conclusion of Christmas and the beginning of a new season: Epiphany.

In the Christian tradition, Epiphany is the day when we remember the three wise men visiting the Christ child and the baptism of Christ. Though perhaps forgotten by many Americans, who celebrate Christmas on December 25 and consider the holiday over by the 26th, it is not so skipped or ignored by the faithful around the world. Spain throws parades, and Spaniards give gifts in commemoration of the Magi’s gold, frankincense, and myrrh. In Australia, as well as Bulgaria, Greece, Russia, and the Czech Republic, men celebrate by going down to the water and bathing together to commemorate Christ’s baptism. And in France, the Galette des Rois, or kings’ tart (Rosca de Reyes in Mexico), is a cake of fruit and nuts, traditionally including a figurine of Baby Jesus, whose recipient becomes responsible for hosting either the next celebration of Epiphany or the February 2 celebration of Candlemas, depending on whom you ask.

Many Americans still celebrate Epiphany too, of course, even if it is not a federal holiday or even a Hallmark one. My mother-in-law does this by leaving her Christmas tree up, as tradition demands, but trading her red and green decorations for gold ones, a la the Magi; she and my father-in-law also always invite a friend to dinner who has experienced loss in the past year, in order to share the gift of Christ through their hospitality. They might even cook some curry, or Asian cuisine, since the wise men were from the Orient—kitschy, maybe, but fun.

While traditions vary, the importance of the day does not. This is especially true now. Remembering, rejoicing in, and celebrating Epiphany is yet another way Christians can set themselves apart, not just from the secularization of Christmas, which begins and ends on the materialist calendar as ordained by the retail gods, but from the religion of the left, too, which demands we forget our eternal salvation in order to do penance to the politics of here and now. It is to our shame if we allow Epiphany to be overshadowed by politics, especially of such a clownish variety.

Yet the ruling class requires full participation in commemorating January 6, as well as countless other holy days at which they demand not just our attention but also our attendance. If you forget to condemn the events of January 6, you’ll be incriminated as a white-nationalist insurrectionist, just as your failure to post a black square on Instagram last summer made you complicit in the death of George Floyd. “Silence is violence” doesn’t only apply to Black Lives Matter anymore, but to everything, from a man’s supposed right to reject his biology to the specter of “white supremacy” allegedly responsible for Kyle Rittenhouse’s acquittal. There is no option to abstain from these religious rites, because to remain silent is, in their eyes, to choose evil and death. (We can say this, at least: progressives are zealous servants to their false gods.) Now you’d better go pay your 21st century indulgence by posting about the “insurrection,” so they know you’re not a “J6 Truther.”

This isn’t to say that, by contrast, every celebration of Epiphany is inherently Christian, or good, or appropriate—certainly, many have secularized the day just as much as December 25—but either way, it is still our day, our faith, our Christ for whom we have set aside this day. And thus it is our job to preserve it, despite all the noise.

Don’t let the left’s religion dictate how you remember January 6. Turn off Twitter tomorrow, and don’t give the melodramatic experts another page view on their columns as they recall how their palms still sweat at the thought of QAnon man. However you spend Epiphany, may you worship Christ, rather than the gods of the city.

Editor’s note: The article has been updated. The 12th night of Christmas is traditionally celebrated on January 5, prior to Epiphany. 

about the author

Carmel Richardson is the 2021-2022 editorial fellow at The American Conservative. She received her B.A. from Hillsdale College in political philosophy with a minor in journalism. She firmly believes that the backroads are better than the interstate, and though she currently resides in Northern Virginia, her home state will always be Tennessee.

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