Since ancient times, throughout the world Epiphany marks the time when homes are blessed with chalk. It protects all who dwell there, and places God at the entrance to your home.
Epiphany is also widely known as Three Kings Day, or El Dia de los Tres Reyes Magos. Magi, as they were known brought him the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Their names were Gaspar, Melchor and Baltasar. They came following the Star of Bethlehem until they found the Christ child.
It is celebrated 12 days after Christmas according to the Gregorian calendar. It also commemorates the baptism of Jesus.
In this centuries-old tradition priests would visit each home to carry out the blessing, which has its roots in the book of Exodus. As parishes grew larger, a member of the household was able to bless the house in place of the priest.
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt … “take some of the blood [of the lamb], and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat them. They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it … The blood shall be a sign for you, upon the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall fall upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.” (cf. Exodus 12:1-13)
The chalk is distributed after Mass celebrating the Feast of the Epiphany. The chalk is used to inscribe the beautiful blessing on the lintel of the main doorway. It is meant to bring grace upon those practice it in faith, and it provides protection against spiritual enemies.
This is the prayer recited by the priest to bless the chalk, (from the Roman Ritual):
Bless, + O Lord God, this creature, chalk, and let it be a help to mankind. Grant that those who will use it with faith in your most holy name, and with it inscribe on the doors of their homes the names of your saints, Casper, Melchior, and Baltassar, may through their merits and intercession enjoy health in body and protection of soul; through Christ our Lord.
With the blessed chalk in hand, a member of the household can bless the home in this way (adapted from the Roman Ritual):
Upon entering the house at the front door
Epiphany is celebrated globally within the Roman Catholic, Protestant and Eastern Orthodox faiths. It signifies the end of the Christmas season.
Traditional foods are served such as sweet bread known as the rosca de los reyes.
Bakers hide a small figure of the baby Jesus inside, and the one who finds it in their slice receives good luck, and in some countries they are then responsible for hosting the celebration of El Dia de la Candelaria or Candlemas on February 2. This is when candles are brought to church to be blessed and then used throughout the year.
Stranger Than Fiction Stories by M.P. Pellicer