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The Baptism of the Lord (or the Baptism of Christ) is the feast day commemorating the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River by John the Baptist. Originally the baptism of Christ was celebrated on Epiphany, which commemorates the coming of the Magi, the baptism of Christ, and the wedding at Cana. Over time in the West, however, the celebration of the baptism of the Lord came to be commemorated as a distinct feast from Epiphany.
Roman Catholic Church
The Baptism of the Lord is observed as a distinct feast in the Roman Catholic Church. Depending on the year and the method of calculation (see below), it can fall on any day from 7 to 13 January.
In most parts of the Church, the feast is now observed on the first Sunday after Epiphany (6 January), although it originally coincided with Epiphany. The tridentine calendar had this feast on 13 January, the old octave day of Epiphany, which was fixed on January 6.
In the United States (and in countries where Epiphany is observed on Sunday after 1 January), however, Epiphany is observed on the Sunday after 1 January, and if that would put Epiphany on 7 January or 8 January, Baptism of the Lord is observed on the following Monday to avoid it falling too late. In this case it is not made a holy day of obligation.
In the liturgy, the day after the Baptism of the Lord marks the start of the first period of ordinary time. The Pope has traditionally baptized babies at the Sistine Chapel during the feast. It is also the date that the Roman Catholic Church advises that Christmas-themed decorations may be taken down.
In the Church of England, Epiphany may be observed on 6 January or on the Sunday between 2 and 8 January. If Epiphany is observed on 6 January or before, the Baptism of Christ is observed on the following Sunday. If the Epiphany is observed on 7 or 8 January, the Baptism of Christ is observed on the following Monday.
In the Church of England, Ordinary Time does not begin until the day after the Presentation of Christ in the Temple.
In the Episcopal Church in the United States, Epiphany is always celebrated on January 6, and the Baptism of the Lord is always celebrated on the following Sunday.
In the Eastern Orthodox and the Eastern Catholic Churches, the Baptism of the Lord is celebrated as an integral part of the celebration on 6 January, the Great Feast of the Theophany. For those churches which follow the traditional Julian Calendar, 6 January falls on 19 January of the modern Gregorian Calendar (see Theophany for details).
Liberal Catholic communion
In the Liberal Catholic Churches, Epiphany is always celebrated on January 6 and, because the feast has an octave, on the following Sunday. The Baptism of the Lord (also called "The Baptism of our Lord") is always celebrated on January 15. There is no "Ordinary Time" but Trinity Sunday begins the cycle of numbered Sundays.
cs:Svátek Křtu Páně ko:주의 세례주일 hr:Krštenje Isusovo sl:Jezusov krst