Twelfth Night begins at sunset on 05 January and proceeds to the day of Epiphany which commemorate the manifestation of the Christ-child to the Magi who by tradition travelled from the East bearing prophetic gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The western church of Rome believes their number to have been three but the eastern Orthodox church increases this to twelve and also extends the Christmas festive season to forty days expiring with Candlemas on 2nd February. There will then follow the sombre days of Lenten fasting; from 22 February to 06 April in 2023.

By coincidence, the minor Jewish fast day of 10th of Tevet occurred this year on 03 January and commemorated the commencement in 588 BCE of the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. This culminated two years later with the complete destruction of Solomon´s Temple and the first diaspora of the Jews of Judea either into captive slavery or flight eastwards as far as India or westwards along the Mediterranean basin to Iberia. The magnitude of this disaster was repeated on an even greater scale in AD 70 when the Roman general Titus ravaged Jerusalem, destroyed its second Temple and killed, as the historian Josephus records, one million of the inhabitants. The exodus of what remained of God´s chosen people followed the footsteps of the twelve Jewish apostles who had spread the word of the gospels following the crucifixion of their Lord.

Let us hope that, during the twelve months of this New Year, people of all faiths and doctrines will experience a personal epiphany which will end the moral torpidity which seems to be leading mankind to a repetition of those dreadful historic events and the destruction of the Temple which is our planet Earth.