January 6 is a Christian feast day that is rooted in the biblical Christmas story. It says that a group of distinguished foreigners were led to baby Jesus by a star.
Over the years the foreigners became three kings: Caspar, Melchior und Balthasar. They visited Jesus after his birth, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
In Austria this day isn’t just an official feast day. There are some traditions built around this day, too.
A group of children dress up as the magi and go from house to house, carrying a star with them. They sing carols and ask for a donation which is assigned to aid projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
House blessing “C+M+B”
With a blessed chalk, the children dressed up as magi write the three letters “C+M+B” and the current year above the main door of the house. Many people think those are the three kings’ initials. But in fact, those three letters stand for “Christus mansionem benedicat”. That’s Latin and means “May Christ bless this house”.
The night before January 6 is also called „Dreikönigsnacht“. It is one of the most important so called „Rauhnächte“, where some people spread the scent of frankincense in their homes to keep misfortune away. To read more on this subject click here.