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The Three Magi

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The Three Wise Men at the birth of Jesus in a table-top creche or nativity scene
The Three Wise Men at the birth of Jesus in a table-top creche or nativity scene

The Three Magi, also known as the Three Wise Men or The Three Kings -- Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar -- travelled far to visit and pay tribute to the infant Jesus and are popularly petitioned around Christmas time for gifts and for luck and for household and stable protection in the New Year. They are first mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew, who wrote that they foresaw the birth of the Messiah in the stars and undertook a long journey from the East, coming through the deserts on camels to pay homage to The Saviour with gifts of frankincense, myrrh, and gold.

The Three Magi are portrayed differently among various Christian denominations. According to some traditions, they are said to have been natives of three different regions, such as Arabia, Persia, India, and/or Ethiopia. The word "magi" links them to the priestly class of Persia and the Zoroastrian religion, and some say they were not political monarchs, but that one or more were also priests and astrologers.

The Wise Men feature prominently in Christan creches or nativity scenes, which are seasonal Christmas-time displays, set up either in the home or outdoors, featuring statues of the baby Jesus in a manger with Mary and Joseph, accompanied by shepherds, domestic animals, the Three Kings, and an Angel.

In Spain, Portugal, and other Mediterranean countries, The Three Kings are associated with gift-giving practices, not unlike Santa Claus. Children will write letters to them and leave out drinks and food for them as they come on their camels to bring presents.

In Northern and Eastern Europe, the Magi are particularly venerated at the feast of Epiphany or "the twelfth day of Christmas," which takes place on January 6th among Catholic and Protestant Christians and on January 19th in the Eastern Orthodox Churches. In some parishes, priest bless gold, frankincense, myrrh, and chalk. The blessed chalk is then used by parishioners to mark the New Year's date, which is broken into two groups of two digits surrounding the letters C+M+B (for instance "20+C+M+B+12"). The letters C+M+B are traditionally said to stand for the names Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar as well as for the Latin phrase, "Christus Mansionem Benedicat," which means "Christ bless the house." The annual blessing of the Three Kings is said to bring blessings, protection, and luck to the home.

Hoodoo psychic readers, spirit workers, and root doctors who work within the Christian, Islamic, and Spiritualist traditions may petition the Three Magi for blessings, protection, and good fortune.

In the African Diasporic religion religion of Voodoo, which has been syncretized with Catholic practices, the Three Magi are associated with the lwa Simbi.

In the New Age ascension religions, Caspar is associated with the Ascended Master Djwhal Kuhl, Melchior with the Ascended Master El Morya, and Balthazar with the Ascended Master Koot Hoomi.

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