Christmas 2021: Who are the Three Wise Men or Magi and what is their story?
It is believed that the Three Wise Men — Melchior, Gaspar (also called Caspar) and Balthazar — gifted Jesus gold to signify his status as King of the Jews, frankincense representing the infant’s identity as the Son of God; and finally, myrrh that touched upon Jesus’ mortality
We all know that 25 December is Christmas and baby Jesus was born on that day. The story, however, does not end there. In many countries, there are a few Christian traditions that are carried on for 12 days beginning from Christmas.
The 12-day tradition ends around 6 January, which is known as the feast of the Epiphany. On this day, people believe that the Magi or three wise men or three kings came to see the new born baby Jesus.
Who were the three wise men and what did they bring?
The three wise men were kings who were identified as Melchior, Gaspar (also called Caspar) and Balthazar. The first king hailed from Persia while the second and third hailed from India and Arabia respectively. When they came to visit Jesus, they gifted him gold signifying Jesus’ status as King of the Jews, then frankincense representing the infant’s identity as the Son of God; and finally, myrrh that touched upon Jesus’ mortality.
Usually, on Christmas day, people depict and understand that the three kings showed up in Bethlehem, but by traditional celebrations they visited him on the 12th day post-Christmas.
Significance of Epiphany:
The Three Kings Day or Epiphany, is an official recognition and commemoration of the arrival of the Magi; hence resulting to be one of oldest holidays in the Christian calendar. However, Roman Catholics celebrate this special feast Epiphany on 6 January while Orthodox Christians celebrate it on 19 January.
For the unversed, in the Bible the only reference to these men come in the Gospel of Matthew of Chapter 2. According to the Gospel, the men had followed a big bright star that took them to the house where Jesus, Mary and Joseph were present. On reaching, the men presented gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the baby.
Furthermore, frankincense was a type of incense that was very expensive. Myrrh has been used as a perfume in olden times and in ancient Egypt. Myrrh was also used in embalming processes. It would be used in oil for anointing kings.