The Three Kings - Traditions - Central Europe and Germanic

Central Europe and Germanic

  • A tradition in most of Central Europe and in Germanic areas involves writing the initials of the three kings' names (C+M+B or C M B, or K+M+B in those areas where Caspar is spelled Kaspar), above the main door of the home in chalk, to confer blessings on the occupants for the New Year. The writing is done at some point between Christmas and Epiphany. However, the initials also represent "Christus mansionem benedicat" ("May/Let Christ Bless This House")
  • In Catholic parts of Germany and in Austria, this is done by so-called Sternsinger (star singers), groups of three elementary school age children (nowadays of both sexes), dressed up as the Magi, carrying the star and singing Christmas carols. They are chaperoned by an adult or an older teenager who will stay in the background. In exchange for writing the initials, they collect money for a specific charity project in the third-world designated by the Catholic Church, which is the same throughout the country in any given year. It is part of the Sternsinger tradition that one of the three children will blacken his or her face with soot, in memory of the legend that one of the Magi was of African origin. This is not considered a racist blackface performance, as it does not portray any stereotypes about African people apart from the skin colour.
  • In Poland, celebrations with biblical costuming occur throughout the country. * For example, in Warsaw there are processions from Plac Zamkowy down Krakowskie PrzedmieĊ›cie to Plac PiĊ‚sudskiego.

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