CONTRIBUTED BY SARAH FORTE
12 Days of German Christmas: Day 12
Today is the twelfth day of Christmas and tomorrow traditionally wraps up the season with Three Kings Day or Dreikönigstag. This is not a popular holiday in the States, but has a few special traditions here in Germany. The day is an official holiday in a few German states (Baden Wuerttembert, Bavaria and Saxony Anhalt) but you may see signs of it being celebrated all over Germany as well as other parts of Europe.
The day celebrates the visit of the magi who followed a star to the young Christ child. Although the visit was told in the Bible, the tradition has been added to far beyond the words in the book of Matthew. According to tradition, there were three kings named Caspar, Melchior and Balthsaar. They are often depicted as coming from three continents: Asia, Africa and Europe. In the 1100s the relics of what is traditionally known as the three kings was given to Cologne by Frederick Barbarossa. You can see the shrine in the Cologne Cathedral.
What will be going on in your German town? Some children dressed as small kings carrying a star might visit you. Often they will be singing songs and going door to door. They may ask for a donation, which is donated to charity.
Keep your eyes open for the mark they leave after their trip. In 2014 it will be “20C+M+B14.” The 20 and 14 are for the current year. The letters have two meanings. The first is the initials of the traditional three kings, but it can also stand for a Latin blessing “Christus Mansionem Benedictat” which means “Christ bless this home.” The mark is made with chalk and it is traditionally undisturbed until the next Dreikönigstag.
This wraps up our Twelve Days of German Christmas. We hope you have had a great holiday season and perhaps learned a little bit from Germany Ja. Here are links to the other eleven days of Christmas:
1. Christmas Day
2. 2nd Christmas: Zweite Weihnachten
3. Nutcrackers: Nussknacker
4. Advent Candles and Wreath: Adventskranz
5. Candle Arch: Schwibbogen
6. St. Nikolas
7. New Year’s Eve: Der Heilige Silvester
8. New Year’s: Neujahr
9. Christmas Tree: Tannenbaum
10. Glühwein Withdrawal
11. Gingerbread Houses: Lebkuchenhaeusle
12.Three Kings Day: Dreikönigstag
Note: Click top pictures for credits.