KMC celebrates Three Kings Day

Story and photo by Petra Lessoing 435th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

From after Christmas until late January, children disguised as the three holy kings can be seen walking from house to house in the KMC.

They have paper crowns on their head and carry a big golden star on a pole. They sing, pray and ask for charity collections for their parish.

Each year, about 500,000 children participate in the fundraiser event that was established in 1959.

More than €600 million was collected to support more than 51,000 projects and relief programs for children in Asia, Africa, Latin American, Oceania and East Europe.

Germans officially observe Three Kings Day, or Epiphany, on Jan. 6.

The day marks the end of the Christmas season.

The Christmas tree is lit for the last time, discarded, and the ornaments are packed away until next Christmas.

Three Kings Day is one of Germany’s most traditional and characteristic religious holidays, but it is a legal holiday only in the states of Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and Sachsen.

The children asking for donations represent Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar. In former times, when ringing door bells, they received Christmas cookies, pretzels and sausages. After receiving a donation, the three holy kings bless the house by writing with chalk “20C+M+B09” above the doors to keep evil from entering.

The three letters C, M and B don’t stand for the kings’ initials, but for the Latin words “Christus Mansionem Benedictat,” which literally means, “Christ bless this home.” The blessing has to stay over the door until the next Three Kings Day.

Caspar is Hebraic and means treasurer, Melchior is Hebraic and means the king of light, and the Babylonian name Balthasar means “the Lord may protect the life of the king.”

The three wise men were considered kings, because when Christ was born they came to the stable and brought gifts of gold, incense and myrrh.