Today is Three Kings Day in Poland and many other Christian countries.
Three Kings Day (Trzech Króli) is an important celebration with parades featuring the Three Wise Men, in many larger cities. Carols are sung and special services are held in most churches. And special cakes are baked and eaten.
In addition, in homes throughout Poland, Poles take a small box containing a piece of chalk, incense, a piece of amber, and a gold ring to a church to be blessed. When home they then inscribe the letters K+M+B+ and the year with the chalk above the main doorway to the house. Tradition has it that this provides protection against illness and misfortune for all those within. The letters, with a cross after each one, stand for the names of the Three Kings in Polish – Kacper, Melchior and Baltazar. These markings remain above the door all year or until they disappear with weather or are replaced by new markings on the 6th of January the following year. In some households markings are made above every door in the house! And some Poles don’t get their chalk blessed in church but just add the inscription in chalk themselves. However, in some smaller communities, this is seen as a serious spiritual event with the priest present when the inscription is made.
Three Kings Day or Epiphany is an official non-working national public holiday in Poland. Almost everywhere is closed. Schools, offices, shops, indeed, pretty much any place.
Many families will also remove and eat any edible decorations on their Christmas trees and take down their Xmas tree on Three Kings Day, as this is officially the 12th day of Christmas, which marks the end of the Christmas season.
Read more about Epiphany in Poland on our earlier webpage about the initials KMB.