As I prepare for the Feast of the Epiphany, here are some stream-of-consciousness thoughts, you may find interesting, and may wish to comment upon.
In the Roman Rite, it seems Epiphany is an anticlimax. A lot of that is the culture, and the mindset it encourages. But it's also true that traditionally, Western Christianity has placed more emphasis on Christmas Day, while the East has made more of Epiphany.
Certainly that's true liturgically. All the "bells and whistles" are for Midnight Mass on Christmas.
Also, you may have noticed certain parallels in the Church's liturgical year: Advent has a number of similiarities to Lent; you have two Octaves, one at Christmas, one at Easter; you have Good Friday, then a kind of mini-Good Friday six months later: the Triumph of the Cross; you have Holy Thursday, then 40 days later, Corpus Christi.
So, you have, in the Easter Octave, the 1st day is really big--with its late-night beginning--then the end of the Octave is not as big a deal, i.e., "Low Sunday" as it was traditionally known, now "Divine Mercy Sunday." With Christmas, you could see that both in the actual Octave-Day, but also with Epiphany, which marks a 12-day period that is some ways parallels the Octave.
A side-note...does anyone know about any history or theologizing around the 12 days, i.e., making anything of that significance? I.e., the rationale for the Octave is that, for Christians, "the eighth day" is very significant: God created in six days; the seventh day is the day of rest; and in Christ, it becomes the day of resurrection; and the eighth day is the beginning of the new creation. Baptismal fonts (I still need one!) are often eight-sided.
But 12 days--has anyone theologized about that? How about this: 12 is the number of the Tribes of Israel, and our Lord came first to Israel--he was born in a Jewish family, in the family of Abraham and David; but with Epiphany--on the 12th day--he is revealed to the world, by way of the (presumably) Gentile magi, who have traditionally been depicted of different races--hence, standing in for all nations. In the Gospels, Our Lord talks about sending the Apostles first to the tribes of Israel, but then, "go to all the world" are his parting words. I can't believe I'm the first to make that connection; I probably read it somewhere but forgot just where.
Finally, I offer this question: do we Romans anticipate Epiphany on Christmas? I mean, do we, on Christmas Day, move immediately to what Epiphany is meant to commemorate--hence, making the day anti-climactic?
I suspect I do: my Christmas homilies tend to focus on what Christ's coming means to the world; where perhaps that might be more meaningful for Epiphany. Perhaps a Christmas homily could focus more narrowly on "God-became-man"...except the modern mind tends to respond, "and what's that mean to me?"
It's not going to make me rewrite my Epiphany homily, which I'll post later this evening, after I deliver it the first time at 4 pm Mass...but it's food for thought; discuss amongst yourselves.
Oh, and Merry Christmas!