Monday, January 13, 2014

King's Day...

The last January that I lived in Germany... in 2012... I had a knock at my door and I opened it to find these children dressed as Kings for the 3 King's Day or the last day of the Christmas holiday season which is also called Epiphany.

The children sang a song and took an offering for charity.   I gave them some money and gestured that I wanted to take their photo.  Aren't they cute?   I also had the top of my door signed in chalk showing that they had stopped by and that my house was now blessed.  I lived there for 4 different months of January and this is the first time that they came to visit my house for Epiphany. 

*Read down below for more information about why/what/etc.

I didn't have anyone stop at my house here in Italy last January or recently- since, this event was just recently celebrated.

Not much snow, huh?   Soon, that sidewalk would be just a walking tunnel in the deep snow all around it.

*Some information that I found on the web.
This day (known as Three Kings Day, Epiphany or The Feast of  Theophany, depending upon what country you live in and what religious traditions you follow) and the night before (known as Twelfth Night).  There is more about all the different customs here:

Christians celebrate is that on the 12th night after the birth of Jesus, the Three Kings were led by a star to find Him in Bethlehem.  They brought gifts of frankincense, gold and myrrh.  This night marks the end of the Christmas season, and is also traditionally the time to take down the Christmas tree and all decorations (although some traditions do leave the Christmas greenery up until Candlemas on February second).

Many families make a cake for Twelfth Night, with a bean or pea tucked inside it for a little Queen or King to find! In England, Twelfth Night is a festive time for merriment and good cheer! (Wassail is a beverage associated with this night as well).

In Germany, children dress up as the Three Kings and go from house to house to collect money for a charity.  In Scandinavian countries, there may be a procession of singers led by “Star Singers” that move from house to house.  Russian children wait for Mama Babouschka to fill their shoes with gifts, as children in Spain wait for gifts from the Three Magi.  Italian children wait for Old Befana to bring gifts as well.  The local grocery stores had lots of Befana stockings for sale last weekend to celebrate the arrival of Old Befana.

French families typically share a Kings’ Cake.

The day after Twelfth Night is Epiphany.  Epiphany is actually one of the very oldest Christian festivals.  Besides the Three Kings, also celebrated is  the Baptism of  Jesus and The  Divine Manifestation of the Holy Trinity and the Revelation of Jesus to Man. 

In some parts of Europe, someone will write above the front door in chalk C+M+B flanked by the year (so for this year it would look like this:  20+C+M+B+12).  The C,M,B can stand for the Three Kings themselves:   Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar, although many of German friends say the C,M,B stands for “Christ Bless This Home” or a variant of that.

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