Christmas is Over After the Gifts of the Magis

BELEN: A recreation of the nativity and the Holy Family prominently featured at the grounds of the La Porteria parish, photographed by Helen A. Ramos for

All the merriment and festivities that came with the happiest season of all is winding now, but not until the three mens’ visit to the infant Jesus is consumated. The event is closely associated to the Epiphany.

The Epiphany of course celebrates the revelation of God the Son as an ordinary human being of flesh and body in Jesus.

For Western Christians, the feast primarily commemorates the coming of the Magi; Eastern churches celebrate the Baptism of Christ in the Jordan. In both traditions, the essence of the feast is the same: the manifestation of Christ to the world (whether as an infant or in the Jordan), and the Mystery of the Incarnation.

(We are not going to incite a debate about the exact date and accurate event, rather than just relating a perspective based on the “local tradition” this writer had been used to observe. There should be no dispute about this. But would encourage everyone to make a strong protest, correction or addition and drop a note here, for we are always open to that and stand to be corrected. Thank you very much.)

The lone brightest star of Bethlehem that night guided the perilous trek of Melchor, Gaspar and Balthazar. The three kings from the east brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh as homage to the newborn babe.

These three important biblical kings have of course engulfed the interests of many important personalities and protagonists of that time, including the treacherous king Herod. Also, they became part and parcel of the Catholic commemoration, celebration and belief, or otherwise, of the whole episode of the Christmas festivities.

Of interest to us is that now in modern Iran, in the city of Saba, the three wise men were believed to be entombed in three large and beautiful monuments constructed side by side below a square and very prominent edifice. It is of general belief that the kings jump- started their journey for the quest from the same locality.

Not to be outdone, the German city of Cologne has a Shrine of the Three Kings in its cathedral, which also claim to contain the bones of the three wise men.

Fixed Feast
Up until the ’70s, the day of the three kings used to get celebrated on a fixed date, the 6th of January. Now, the date became movable and got a fixed day- the first Sunday of the new year. School children would want more vacation days, of course, if only they can roll back the time and undo the Catholic decision, though.

For when does the Christmas season in the Philippines truly end? Only after the observance of the three kings! Hence, the country has one of the longest celebration in the world, this part of Asia.(


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