Another tradition of Epiphany invokes the Magi’s blessing upon the household. A family member typically will read a brief, responsive liturgy that includes the biblical account of the Magi’s visit and then “chalk the door” with a series of marks.

The markings include letters, numbers, and crosses in a pattern like this: 20 † C † M † B † 12. The numbers correspond to the calendar year (20 and 12, for instance, for the year 2012); the crosses stand for Christ; and the letters have a two-fold significance: C, M, and B are the initials for the traditional names of the Magi (Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar), but they are also an abbreviation of the Latin blessing Christus mansionem benedicat, which means, “May Christ bless this house.”

The Magi, who journeyed a great distance to recognize the birth of a  foreign king, recognized the blessing of peace that this king’s appearance signified. Their gifts and obeisance to the new king implied their acceptance of his peaceful reign. As we reenact the Magi’s blessing, we acknowledge that Christ’s entrance into the world makes our homes places of peace and hospitality.


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