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This afternoon my cousin and I were discussing The Three Magi, also known as The Three Wise Men or The Three Kings. My cousin asked, were they really kings? I said that I didn’t know for sure, I just knew that they seemed to be wealthy, intelligent men who sought out the Virgin and Child that they saw in the stars. They knew Child was a king and perhaps the greatest king of all time. They came to adore Him. What an amazing humility they had when one considers the selfishness of Herod who desired to destroy the prophesized king.
The names of the three Magi are: Caspar (also known as Jaspar or Gaspar); Balthazar (Balthasar) and Melchior. It is known that they were from the East and it is believed they came from India, Arabia and Persia. When they visited the Christ Child, they brought gifts of gold which is symbolic of Christ’s kingship; frankincense which is symbolic of Christ being God and myrrh which is symbolic of Death.
January 6th, also called Twelfth Night is the Feast of the Three Kings. Most of us know this Feast as the Epiphany. Remember the song, The Twelve Days of Christmas? The twelve days actually start after the birth of the Christ Child and end on January 6th. In some places gifts are exchanged on the Feast of the Three Kings. In the Deep South, Twelfth Night marks the beginning of the Mardi Gras season. On January 6th there are Feast of the Three Kings parties. A green, gold and purple braided bread, known as King Cake is served. A tiny plastic “Baby Jesus” is hidden in one of the pieces. Whoever finds the Baby Jesus becomes “King for the Day” and is expected to throw the next Three Kings party the following year.