“We Three Kings of Orient are, bearing gifts we traverse afar, field and fountain, moor and mountain, following yonder star.”
This is the last night of the Western Christian celebrations, and in many traditions children will get a last treat tonight, just as the Three Kings bring their gifts to the Saviour Jesus Christ after a long journey following a Comet. Yet, who are these kings and where were their kingdoms? In different texts they appear under different definitions, the earliest ones being Magi, or Magus, wizard astrologists who read in the stars the advent of the Messiah, King of the Jews, later renamed the Three Wise Men. Perhaps their title as Kings was added later to add some beauty to the story, and probably because the prophecy that foresaw the advent of the Christ mentioned that sovereigns will bow before the King of Kings. Their names appear a few hundred years later Balthasar King of Arabia, Melchior King of Persia, and Gaspar King of India, thus making it possible to make them Christian Saints, patrons of travellers.
The Three Magi did not only come to worship The Christ, and definitely did not come empty handed they brought three boxes, each with a gift, Gold which is a symbol of kingship on Earth, Frankincense which symbolises deity, and finally Myrrh which is a symbol of death, “gold as to a king, myrrh as to one who is mortal and incense as to a God.”
Little fun fact, in Italy this night belongs to a witch called Befana riding at night on a broom filling the socks of children with sweets as long as they kept on being good and obedient, or otherwise removing the Christmas presents and filling the socks with coal if they misbehaved and made their parents angry or sad.