Figurines of the nativity scene – history and meaning – Magi Kings
Several are the tales and legends that surround these three characters coming along with their gifts. The Magi, were announced in the second chapter of Matthew’ gospel only, traditionally appearing at the nativity scene on January 6th – Solemnity of the Epiphany. On this day the Catholic Church commemorates them as Saints.
They come from the so-called Orient, today’s Middle East and were experts in astronomy. Their number was determined based on the gifts presented to Baby Jesus: gold, frankincense and myrrh.
WISE MEN COMING FROM FAR AWAY
They embody wise men and scholars from around the world who humble themselves to praise a child. Along their way they face danger and desert. They make important decisions, such as not returning to Herod. They teach us that eventually we may start from far-out to find Jesus.
Thanks to modern studies, astronomers have been able to determine that about 2000 years ago there was indeed a conjunction between Saturn and Jupiter. The latter may raised the comet star that led the three kings on their way to the creche in Bethlehem where Jesus Christ was born.
The desire for knowledge and a deep original faith made sure that the three kings set out to kneel before a child and praise it, though not being confused by the poverty of the place of birth.
THREE GIFTS, THREE MAGI KINGS
The three kings are physically unlike, bringing along three gifts that are certainly distinctive in their home countries. In fact, the kings embody the three continents known at the time: Africa, Asia and Europe.
Caspar, the youngest, carries and donates frankincense: a symbol of kingship. Frankincense is primarily used on religious ceremonies and funerals. It’s extracted from Boswellia, a plant used in ancient Ayurvedic medicine. The name Caspar is derived from the Greek Galgalath and means Lord of Sheba, the legendary kingdom of present-day’s Yemen.
Melchior the elder, has Persian origins having European features. He, whose name means king, carries and donates gold as a sign of wealth, it is said to represent Jesus Christ, who himself will be called “King of kings”. Separately, a doubtful interpretation of a translation of the gospel from the Aramaic calls for gold of the east or curcuma as a gift. This valuable golden colored spice possesses great healing power which would harmonize along with the properties of frankincense and myrrh.
Balthazar, known as the Moor because of his dark skin, carries and donates myrrh. Myrrh is a resin used in funerals in ancient times. This ingredient should stand for the suffering and passing away of Jesus.
CHRISTUS MANSIONEM BENEDICAT – JESUS CHRIST BLESS THIS HOUSE
Every year on January 6th, the three kings walk from house to house as singers announcing the blessing of Jesus Christ. Today such custom is widespread in Val Gardena, in any Alpine regions, as well as in Middle and Northern Europe.
In some locations any priest may joins the three kings’ singers. He blesses the house and smokes it out. After that, by using blessed white chalk, the letters C, M, and B will be written on the front door beam. These stand for the first letters of the following statement “Christus Mansionem Benedicat”, Jesus Christ bless this house.
The lettering itself may alternates, eventually adding any symbols such as asterisks, crosses and dashes, but mostly “C+M+B” is put in the middle of the current year numbers, as example: “20*C+M+B*23”. Eventually, such letters have a second interpretation, might being the initials of the three kings: Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar.
The latter custom is often associated with collecting donations for missions.
THREE KINGS – WOOD CARVED FIGURINES
Sonia dedicates a special art studding on any and all handcrafted wooden Magi figurines.
Per the tails of the birth of Jesus Christ, the three kings are distinct by wearing rich royal dresses; thus, the latter special characters offer to the wood carvers and particularly to Sonia as master of painting, to be most creative thanks to their renown art-work experience. These three figurines jointly with any camel, elephant, horse and drivers, enrich even more Sonia’s original Val Gardena nativity scene sets; expected to be set up every year on January 6th, the Epiphany of the Lord.