How Are The Three Kings Celebrated?
What Is The Main Significance Of The Three Kings?
Christmas and the holidays are over, we have celebrated New Year's Eve in a family circle and now wait for what the new year 2021 will bring us.
Right at the beginning, the three kings are waiting for us, who are actually officially ending the whole holiday season. But what do they symbolize and how are they celebrated in other countries?
What Do The Three Kings Symbolize?
The Feast of the Three Kings is celebrated on the 6th of January. On this day, Christmas ends and Carnival begins. We know the three kings as Gaspar (Latin Caspar, which means "Treasure Guard"), Balthasar, meaning "Protect my life, kings" and Melchior, "My king is light." has changed for centuries. Today, Gaspar (sometimes Casper) is depicted as the oldest, Baltazar has black skin. The three wise men are already mentioned in the Bible, specifically in the Gospel of Matthew.
According to legend, the wise men who came to Bethlehem were astronomers from the East. The star of Bethlehem led them to Baby Jesus. Upon arrival, the Three Kings bowed to the child and gave him their gifts, which were rare and expensive at the time - gold, incense (a mixture of fragrant wood and resins) and myrrh (ointment used at funerals).
Gifts have a symbolic meaning. They represent the states that were known at the time: gold is a solid-state, gaseous incense and myrrh liquid. The three kings are considered patrons of pilgrims and sinners.
By January 6, all Christmas decorations should be removed from homes, schools and workplaces, leaving Christmas decorations could bring bad luck for a long time.
How are The Three Kings celebrated in the world?
While Christmas is celebrated in Spain at home in peace and with the family, the Feast of the Three Kings, called Día de Los Reyes Magos, is much more tumultuous. It begins on the evening of the 5th January, when a procession with three kings passes through the streets of cities and small towns. Many people dress up in costumes and candies and sweets are distributed in the streets. This day is also one of the most popular days of every Spanish child because it is then that Spanish children receive gifts brought to them by the Three Kings.
On the 6th January, she also eats a ring-shaped yeast cake called Roscón de Reyes, which - depending on the region and the house - usually contains beans and plastic or ceramic figurine of the king. The pie is cut into equal parts - the person who comes across the bean has to pay Roscón de Reyes next year. He who is lucky and comes across the figure of a king becomes a king and wears a crown all day.
In Ireland, the Feast of the Three Kings, celebrated on 6th January, is called Little Christmas or Nollaig Bheag. It is the day on which the twelve-day of the Christmas period traditionally ends in Ireland. On this day, the Christmas decorations are removed from the tree and all Christmas decorations are stored for next year. According to superstition, any earlier dismantling of the Christmas tree brings bad luck.
The name Little Christmas is most likely related to the fact that until the adoption of the Gregorian calendar (1752), Christmas was celebrated according to the old style of the day, which currently corresponds to 6th January. This day is sometimes called Women’s Little Christmas in Ireland. Once, when women cared only for home and family, they had time off for Three Kings Day. They could go to the bar with their friends and the husband stayed at home with the children. Although times have changed, this tradition is still kept alive and the evening of 6th January belongs to women as a ladies‘ night.
FRANCE AND BELGIUM
In France, it is said that in every family, a king must be elected on Epiphany. Each family buys a round cake called Galette de Rois. A small plastic figurine is baked in each cake (a piece of jewellery or car keys can be baked into luxury cakes on request). The cake is then cut into as many parts as there are family members. Every member of the family eats his cake and looks for a figurine. The person who finds the figure is elected king and puts a paper crown on his head (most often it can be bought together with a cake) and wears it all day. This entertainment is for both Catholics and non-believers because it is a secular tradition. Galette de Rois is also known in Wallonia, Belgium.
In Italy, children receive gifts twice a year. They will receive gifts for the first time on 25th December (In Italy, it is the most solemn day when Babbo Natale bears gifts). They will receive their gifts for the second time on 6th January - the feast of the Three Kings. On this day, the children are presented with gifts by Befana, an ugly but good witch who arrives on a broom with a bag of gifts. She leaves sweets and candies in socks for good children, coal for naughty children. It is more of a secular figure, but its name is derived from the word Epiphania.
The legend of Befana is associated with the journey of the Three Kings to Baby Jesus. Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthasar met an old woman on the way to Bethlehem and offered her to join them. However, the old woman refused. The next day, however, she regretted not joining them and decided to catch up. Unfortunately, she didn't make it, the Three Kings were far away, the Star of Bethlehem disappeared and Befana never saw Baby Jesus. Since then, on the night of the fifth to the sixth of January, she leaves a gift in every house where there is a baby, in case it is Baby Jesus.
This holiday is also known in Germany under the following names: Heilige Drei Könige, Dreikönigsfest or Dreikönigstag and is celebrated mainly in Catholic churches. It is also in the protestant evangelical calendar, but it is not so famous here. In most federal states, this day is a normal working day. But in the Länder: Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and Saxony-Anhalt, this day is a day of rest.
The houses are decorated in chalk with the letters C + M + B + year, which is interpreted either as the first letters of the names of kings or as an abbreviation "Christus mansionem benedicat". parishioners (Sternsinger) disguise themselves as three kings and go from house to house to sing or pray, collecting donations and give to charity, and in the past, nuts and apples have been rewarded for their efforts.
In the Czech Republic, this holiday is celebrated similarly to Germany. The children sing carols disguised in costumes and write K + M + B (It means Kašpar + Melichar + Baltazar) and the year on the door, the Christmas decorations are put away and they go to church for Mass. This day is not a day of rest. Of interest is the swimming of brave people in the Vltava along the Charles Bridge in Prague.
In Lithuania, the Day of the Three Kings is a religious holiday, but it is a normal working day. In larger cities, a procession of the Three Kings takes place in the streets and various games are organized for children.