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February 2, 2016

The Presentation, Meeting or Reception of Christ?


On February 2nd the Orthodox Church celebrates one of its Twelve Great Feasts which in Greek has been called Υπαπαντή (Ypapanti) since the institution of the feast in the 6th century. This is a carefully chosen word that explains precisely what we celebrate on February 2nd. The most common words chosen to translate Υπαπαντή into the English language are the words Presentation and Meeting. However, though it is true there was a presentation of Christ to the temple, and you could even say there was a meeting that took place between Christ and Symeon, yet these words do not most accurately convey what we in fact are celebrating as it is meant to be conveyed through the word Υπαπαντή.

Υπαπαντή comes from the verb υπαπαντώ (υπό + απαντώ), which in modern Greek is translated as προυπαντώ. Therefore in modern Greek this feast could by called the Προϋπάντηση (Proipantisi). Another word for προϋπάντηση is υποδοχή (ypodochei). Proipantisi and ypodochei are translated into English as either Reception or Welcoming. Since the synaxarion and hymns of the feast constantly speak of Christ being received by Symeon, and the iconography indicates it, we can conclude that the most accurate English translation of Υπαπαντή is Reception. Therefore on February 2nd, we celebrate the Reception of Christ by Symeon, who was divinely foretold that he would not die until he beheld the Lord's Christ.