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the day of Three Kings

6 January, 2012

As we were moving into our apartment back in October, I couldn’t help but notice our neighbor’s front door:

our neighbor's door: + k + m + b 2011

It caught my eye because on it, someone had chalked some letters and numbers, and until yesterday, I had not realized what they meant.  I have seen writing on doors before, most notably in pictures of post-Katrina New Orleans, but did not think the markings would have some sort of religious meaning.

According to my good friends at Wikipedia, the letters stand for the first initials of the names of the three wise men (in Polish, of course), and some Christians will write this on their door, with chalk that has been blessed, as a way of blessing their home for the year.  The holiday is celebrated because, for Christians, it marks the day that either the three wise men visited Bethlehem, or the day Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan, and it also kicks off the beginning of the Carnival period that falls before Lent.

As of last year, Three Kings Day is a public holiday in Poland (and had been before it was canceled under Communist rule), which meant that neither The Husband nor I had to go to work today.  Rather than spending the day watching the parade, wearing paper crowns, or eating special cake with a coin baked inside, we went for a long walk and happened upon an Israeli café, where we had coffee and shared a plate of hummus.

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