Many Christians around the world are celebrating Epiphany and Theophany – the day when the Three Kings of Orient arrived in Bethlehem to present Jesus with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh; and the celebration of the Baptism of Christ by John in the Jordan River – while others are preparing to celebrate Christmas.

Father Gregory-Francis Desmarais of the St George Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church in Albany, New York, told IBTimes UK: "For those who follow the Latin [Western] tradition, it is the Feast of the Three Magi [Kings] to Bethlehem. For Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Rite Christians who follow a more ancient tradition, it is the manifestation of the Son of God as he is baptised by John in the Jordan. Orthodox Christians who use the Julian Calendar [including Copts, Ethiopians, Russians, Ukrainians, Serbians, Palestinians and Georgians] will celebrate Christmas tomorrow, 7 January."

Orthodox Christians in Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey and Albania celebrate Epiphany day by diving into freezing water to retrieve a wooden crucifix, in a tradition dating back to Byzantine times.

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Men jump into the waters of a partly frozen lake in an attempt to grab a wooden cross on Epiphany Day in Sofia, BulgariaStoyan Nenov/Reuters
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Two men scuffle to grab a wooden cross in the icy winter waters of the Tundzha river in the town of Kalofer, BulgariaDimitar Dilkoff/AFP
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Bulgarian men dance in the icy waters of the Tundzha river during a celebration for Epiphany Day in the town of KaloferStoyan Nenov/Reuters
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Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew leads the Epiphany ceremony in Istanbul, TurkeyMurad Sezer/Reuters
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Men wait for the Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I to throw a wooden crucifix into the Golden Horn in Istanbul, TurkeyMurad Sezer/Reuters
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Nikolas Solis, 28, holds a wooden crucifix after retrieving it from the Golden Horn in IstanbulMurad Sezer/Reuters
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Nicolaos Solis kisses the hand of Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew near the Bosphorus river's Golden Horn in IstanbulOzan Kose/AFP
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A swimmer kisses a wooden cross after retrieving it from the sea on Epiphany Day in a southern suburb of Athens, GreeceAris Messinis/AFP
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People take part in the traditional Three Kings swim in the the Vltava River alongside the medieval Charles bridge in Prague, Czech RepublicDavid W Cerny/Reuters
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Children dressed as the Magi attend the traditional Epiphany parade in WarsawJane Skarzynski/AFP
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Spectators wear paper crowns as they watch the traditional Epiphany parade in WarsawJane Skarzynski/AFP
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People on a horse carriage take part in traditional Epiphany celebrations in the village of Pietrosani in RomaniaDaniel Mihailescu/AFP

The Three Kings – Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar – paraded through the streets of Madrid and other Spanish cities laden with sweets and presents for children. In Spain, Three Kings Day is considered by most people to be more important than Christmas and many Spanish children wait until 6 January to open their presents.

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An actor dressed as Melchior, one of the Three Wise Men, throws sweets to children in Malaga, southern SpainJon Nazca/Reuters
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People react as sweets are thrown to them from a float by actors dressed as the Three Wise Men during the traditional Epiphany parade in Malaga, southern SpainJon Nazca/Reuters
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A man dressed as one of the Three Wise Men kisses a child in Gijon. Children in Spain traditionally receive their Christmas presents delivered by the Three Wise Men on the morning of 6 January, during the EpiphanyEloy Alonso/Reuters
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A man dressed as one of the Three Wise Men greets children upon arriving at Poniente beach in Gijon, SpainEloy Alonso/Reuters
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A performer dressed as Melchior (one of the three kings) waves during the Cabalgata de Reyes, or the Parade of the Magi, in Madrid, SpainPablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images
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A performer dressed as Baltasar waves to the crowd in MadridPablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images
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A performer dances as she hangs from a balloon during the Three Kings parade in MadridPablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

Pope Francis led a Mass in St Peter's Basilica to mark Epiphany, recalling the Gospel account of the Three Kings, or Magi, who followed a star to find the infant Jesus in Bethlehem. The pontiff said: "Like the Magi, countless people in our own day have a 'restless heart' which continues to seek without finding sure answers."

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Pope Francis kisses a statue of Baby Jesus during the Epiphany mass at St Peter's Basilica in the VaticanGabriel Bouys/AFP
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Pope Francis holds the book of the Gospels during the Epiphany massGabriel Bouys/AFP
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Pope Francis leads the Epiphany mass (Three Kings' Day) at St Peter's Basilica in the VaticanGabriel Bouys/AFP
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Faithful dressed as the three Magi (the Three Wise Men) gather in St Peter's Square to attend Pope Francis' Angelus blessingFranco Origlia/Getty Images
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Heavy clouds are seen above statues in the Vatican before the Angelus prayer on Epiphany's dayGabriel Bouys/AFP

Armenian Orthodox Christians lit candles at the Saint Sarkis Church in Damascus, Syria, to mark Christmas Eve.

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A man lights a candle during Armenian Orthodox Christmas celebrations at the Saint Sarkis Church in Damascus, SyriaLouai Beshara/AFP
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An Armenian Orthodox woman prays at the Saint Sarkis Church during Christmas celebrations in Damascus, SyriaLouai Beshara/AFP

The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, arrived at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem on the eve of Orthodox Christmas. Theophilos III came to lead midnight mass at the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank city, considered by many as the birthplace of Jesus Christ. The Church of the Nativity is shared by various Eastern denominations including the ancient Assyrian Church, the Greek Orthodox, Armenian and the Coptic Church. Leaders from the various churches arrive every year at the church to kick off their Christmas Eve celebrations.