The 6th of January marks the day on which the three wise men went to Bethlehem to visit the Baby Jesus. Although no physical evidence of their existence is available, their legend is still told today:
The three wise men travelled to Bethlehem from the Orient to visit Jesus and bring him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. They followed a bright star (the star of Bethlehem) which guided their ways; this suggests that the wise men may have been astrologists. The name Kaspar (Caspar) stands for ‘Hüter des Schatzes’ (guardian of the treasure) and he brought myrrh as a gift which stands for being human (just as Jesus had to suffer later on in his life as many humans do). Melchior stands for ‘König des Lichts’ (king of the light) and brought gold which is a valuable treasure, one which was thought to be adequate for the son of God. Finally, the name Balthasar stands for ‘Gott wird helfen’ (God will help) and he brought frankincense which is considered a symbol of God.
Since the 16th century, the so called ‘Sternensingen’ (star singers) visit house to house on the 6th of January and sing about the story of Christ. They are often dressed as the three wise men and write the three wise men’s initials on people’s houses in chalk to bless it (C, M and B also stand for the Latin phrase ‘Christus manionem benedicat’ which means ‘Christ bless this house’). In return for their efforts they are often rewarded with treats or with money which is donated to the charity ‘Kinder helfen Kinder’ (children helping children) which collects money for children around the world who are suffering from poverty.
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