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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Three Kings Day In Germany





There’s a knock on the door.  I open it and three children in costume begin to sing.  Known as Sternsingers (Star Singers), the kids, ages around 8-10, are honoring Three Kings Day, or as they call it in Germany, Dreik√∂nigstag.  They wear colorful costumes and at least one carries a wooden stick with a star on one end.

Ok, I realize (and so do they) that The Good Book doesn’t specify there were three kings and although we usually think of kings as males, the Bible doesn’t really say that either.  Translations being what they are and knowing that the event happened over two thousand plus years ago, three and kings may have been approximations, who cares?

I like the tradition.  This year the Sternsingers came around on a Saturday and although it was 5 January and Three Kings Day is traditionally 6 January, who’s going to quibble?  The kids always have an adult chaperone who is quick to point out in any language you choose that the singers are not just there to sing you a carol, but to also bless your house and collect some money for less fortunate children around the world.

In a Roman Catholic tradition, they either chalk or put a sticker over your door that reads:  20+C+M+C+13.  I know you’re wondering and so was I.  Here’s the scoop.

The letters have two meanings. They’re the initials of the Three Magi: Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar, and they also abbreviate the Latin words “Christus Mansionem Benedicat”, “May Christ bless the house”. The year is divided before and after the letters.  The crosses (+) represent the protection of the Christ.

Not being a Roman Catholic, I didn’t know any of that.  But, life being as uncertain as it is, hey, anybody who wants to have a go at keeping my family and our home safe, I say, go for it.  Besides, what curmudgeon can resist three cute kids, singing beautifully just for you and collecting money for a good cause?  Not I.  Clink, clink went the shekels into the tin box, offered by a small, outstretched hand.   Then three kings (or in my case, two kings and a queen) delivered a solemn blessing in unison.

A little cheerful music, a quick blessing, and I’m good for another year.

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