Twelve days after Christmas the Church celebrates the Feast of the Epiphany. What is the Epiphany blessing all about?
The twelve days of Christmas end with the Feast of Epiphany also called “The Adoration of the Magi.” Celebrated this year on January 8th, it is known as the day of the three kings, wise men or magi whose names were Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar. According to Matthew 2:1-12, these three kings saw a bright star on the night Jesus was born, followed it to Bethlehem and found there the Christ child and presented the newborn Savior with gold, frankincense and myrrh. On the evening before Epiphany, traditionally there were prayers, blessed dried herbs would be burnt and their aromatic smell would fill the house. Doorways would be sprinkled with holy water and the master of the house would write with chalk “C+M+B” and the year above the house and barn door and say, “Caspar, Melchior, Balthasar, protect us again this year from the dangers of sin and death.” C+M+B has traditionally been translated with Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar, however, according to the Church it stands also for “Christus Mansionem Benedictat” (Christ bless this home). It is customary today for Catholic families to gather together and bless their homes using this short prayer “May Christ bless all who enter and live in this home in the new year of 2017” and write the New Year blessing 20+C+M+B+17 above the door of their home.
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