Cultural: January 6 - Three King's Day

Three Kings day.jpg

January 6 is an official holiday in Poland. Since it's on a Saturday this year, it doesn't get the notice that it would if it fell in the middle of the week where all the stores would be closed and everyone would have time off school and all would be very quiet outside.

So what's it about?

According to Wikipedia and other sources, it is the date in English that they call the Epiphany, or the day that they celebrate the three wise men visiting Jesus.

The articles I read say it is the official end of the Christmas season. However, I will let you know when they take down the Christmas lights in our town. As of 3:30 pm today (Jan. 5) they were definitely still up.

People tend to leave their Christmas stuff up much longer here than they do in the USA. I am not sure about Australia, the UK or New Zealand or other English speaking countries.

We took our decorations down today. It's long enough for me. Sometimes people in Poland leave them up til early February. Our kids' choir used to sing Christmas carols at a program in late January for the city of Józefów - our town.   think they are beautiful, so it is fine with me, though of course, it was strange to me - as I'm definitely more into "looking forward" than I am into looking backward especially at something that takes place yearly  such as Christmas. 

When we tried to give Christmas presents at an old folks home in a city near us they wouldn't let us come  before Christmas - they wanted us to come after Christmas - well into January.  I couldn't do it.  I knew my energy and stamina and stress level couldn't handle "the season" being that long, so we just told them, "Ok, that's okay, we won't come then," and we found other places to go. I needed it over before the 25th of December so that I could rest. 

As to the Three King's celebration - I don't actually know many people who do anything special on that day, but according to some websites, they say that they take small boxes with things like chalk, a gold ring, incense and a piece of amber to the Catholic Church to be blessed in memory of the Magi. Then they will come home and mark above their doors K+M+B+ - (which I've seen often).  I actually thought the priest did it when he comes to their homes yearly for a visit in early January, though. Some bake a special cake (Three King's Cake) that has a coin in it and the person who gets it is lucky.

(We did have a priest come to our house recently - and I'm sure he was inwardly happy that we didn't want him to come in. He could probably only see a mess of sandwiched quilts and a real madhouse through our glass door. When Lydia told him we didn't need to see him, he went away.)

 photo from Bydgoszcz in 2014 - found on google images

photo from Bydgoszcz in 2014 - found on google images

The three kings have been traditionally been given the names Kaspar, Melchior and Balthasar, thus the K, M, and B.  These letters remain above the door all year long- and they believe that they provide protection against illness and bad luck to those who are inside the house. 

 photo by Krzystof Jaszczak, found on Google images.   parade in Warsaw

photo by Krzystof Jaszczak, found on Google images.   parade in Warsaw

This day also marks the end of the 12 days/nights of Christmas which began on the 25th (my counting says January 5th is the last day - so truly by the 6th, it's over!).

In the past, when a holiday like this fell on a Saturday employers were then obligated to let their employee take a make-up day  - a weekday - to take in place of that day. However, when they added this day as a public holiday back in 2011, they did away with that requirement by employers. (It was restored as a public holiday after 50 years of not being celebrated.)

Here's another article  and another one about it which might help you understand more about it.

 Just before we put these things away, I wanted you to see our big Polish "bombki" (glass ornament) - it has this on one side and Santa on the other. It was a gift from a friend.

Just before we put these things away, I wanted you to see our big Polish "bombki" (glass ornament) - it has this on one side and Santa on the other. It was a gift from a friend.

Note:  We don't know if there were actually three wise men - all we know is that there were three gifts - gold, frankincense and myrrh (Matthew 2:11).

Neither do we know what time of year Jesus was born, nor do we know when the wise men came - just that Jesus was with Mary and Joseph in a house in Bethlehem by that time.

It doesn't mean that the celebration is invalid, but just that there is a lot that is tradition without any basis in hard facts - which of course, is not a problem to me, either, as long as we recognize it for that.

While I'm at it, we don't know when Jesus was born - not even sure what time of year it was - just that shepherds were out in the fields with their sheep - my husband suggested that is probably not winter - not even in Israel - he has a PhD in Old Testament of the Bible lest you think he hasn't a clue what he's talking about.

I only bring this up because lately a friend of mine told me that Jesus was born at midnight on the 24th/25th. I assured her that we don't know the exact time/date Jesus was born. She seemed a little startled by my comment).

Doesn't matter to me the reason, we'll enjoy our day of peace and quiet!

Have a wonderful day, wherever this finds you reading!



Don't forget to check for some goodies with what my sis has for you in the store!


Becky Petersen4 Comments