>Heilige Drei Könige

>Being a Roman Catholic country, the important Catholic holidays are legal holidays here in Austria. Today is “Drei Könige”, or Epiphany, which marks the end of the Christmas festivities. Today is the day people take down their tree and put the ornaments back in the cellar, or go skiing, or — as originally intended — go to church. Or all three, I guess. Children are depressed because it’s the last day of Christmas vacation for them.
Traditionally, each parish sends out a trio of volunteers to dress up as the Three Kings (mostly children or young teens, from what I have seen) to go door-to-door and offer religious songs. They collect money for church charity projects, and then they’ll mark the space above your front door, with special blessed chalk (really), to signify that they have been there and that Jesus should take special note to bless your house. What they write looks like this:


The numbers on either side are the year (divided to frame the blessing), the letters stand for two different things: “Christus Mansionem Benedicat” (Christ bless this house), and they are also the initials of the three kings: Caspar, Melchior, Balthazar.

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2 Responses to >Heilige Drei Könige

  1. Sara says:

    >A life-long Episcopalian, I am now converting to Catholicism. We have always kept the tree and decorations up until Ephiphany and oftentimes well past. I wish most Americans could know the true meaning of the season. Thank you for sharing this beautiful tradition.Do most European countries still celebrate St. Nicholas Day on Dec. 6 and leave the 25th for religious celebrations?

  2. Marcellina says:

    >Sara, as far as I understand, they are both used as gift-giving occasions, altho Dec.6 is mainly for the little ones. The father of a good friend of mine gets hired each year as a Nikolaus, and he goes to houses (they order him in advance), gets the presents in the doorway and pretends that he brought them. He stays to hear a song from the children, blesses them and encourages them to be good (he's much more an authoritarian figure than Santa, but still kind), then it's off to the next house on his list.

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