Three Kings: Today, January 6th, is a public holiday in many German federal states. Traditionally carol singers go from house to house on this day and collect donations. Where does the carol singer custom come from? And what exactly is celebrated on Epiphany?
January 6 is an important holiday in the Christian Church. The day commemorates the visit of the Three Wise Men from the East to Jesus Christ and thus the appearance of God in the world. The Catholic Church celebrates the day as the high feast of the Epiphany, the Protestant Church as Epiphany. January 6th is also often referred to as Epiphany, Epiphany or Epiphany.
Epiphany is a public holiday in Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and Saxony-Anhalt. Shops here are also closed on January 6th.
January 6th is also a public holiday in many European countries, including Austria, Liechtenstein, Italy, Spain and Sweden.
Depending on the translation, the Gospel of Matthew tells of wise men, magicians or astrologers from the East who, following a constellation of stars, came to Bethlehem via Jerusalem to look for the newborn king of the Jews.
Popular belief made kings of different continents out of the magicians and fixed their number at three in connection with the number of gifts. Since the sixth century their names have been given as Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar. In art, Caspar is usually shown as an African giving myrrh, Melchior as a European handing over gold treasures and Balthasar as an Asian king who brings incense to the manger.
The presumed bones of the Three Kings were taken from Milan to Cologne in 1164 as spoils of war. They were a sensation for people in the Middle Ages, so that what was then the largest German city developed into the most important place of pilgrimage after Rome and Santiago de Compostela.
On the Epiphany festival in Germany, girls and boys dressed as the Three Kings go from house to house and collect donations for needy children in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. Nationwide, more than 300,000 children take part in the campaign every year. The carol singers write or stick the blessing “C M B” associated with the respective year on front doors. The abbreviation stands for “Christus mansionem benedicat” (Christ bless this house). At the same time, the letters refer to the names of the three wise men from the Orient: Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar.
The Epiphany Singing has been organized since 1959. The sponsors are the Aachen-based children’s missionary group “Die Sternsinger” and the Bund der Deutschen Katholische Jugend (BDKJ). Since then, the carol singers have collected around 1.14 billion euros for more than 74,000 projects in Africa, Latin America, Asia, Oceania and Eastern Europe. With the last campaign, the 50 million mark was exceeded for the first time with donations of 50.2 million euros.