“The splendor of the LORD is over earth and heaven.” Ps. 148:13
Dear Redeemer Family:
Merry Christmas! By the time you receive this, we should be well into Christmastime. But then, the Season of Christmas only lasts for 12 days (remember the Christmas Carol?). It is a short season, but it is building to a greater season, the Season of Epiphany. Indeed, traditionally Christmas is considered a Minor Festival of the Church. But the Day of Epiphany is considered one of the three Major Church Festivals. The other two Major Festivals, or Feasts are: the Day of Easter (of course) and the Day of Pentecost. The Season of Epiphany can last between 6 and 8 weeks, depending upon the layout of the Church Calendar for the given year, quite a bit longer than the Season of Christmas.
Which brings us to the Epiphany tradition of Chalking of the Doors. Several have asked me to remind them about this lately. So, here we go. The Day of Epiphany, which is also known by other names: Twelfth Night (remember the 12 Days of Christmas again, or think of the title of Shakespeare’s play), rarely as Theophany, or sometimes as Three Kings Day, marks the occasion of a time-honored Christian tradition of “chalking the doors.” The formula for the ritual — adapted for 2024 — is simple: take chalk preferably white and write the following above the entrance of your home: 20 + C + M + B + 24. This is usually done on the Day of Epiphany or close to it.
The letters have two meanings. First, they represent the initials of the three Magi — Caspar (although in some traditions he is named Gaspar – but then the Latin wouldn’t work), Malchior, and Balthazar — who came to visit Jesus in His first home. They also abbreviate the Latin phrase, Christus mansionem benedicat: “May Christ bless the house.” The “+” signs represent the cross, and the “20” at the beginning and the “24” at the end mark the year. Taken together, this inscription is performed as a request for Christ to bless those homes so marked and that He stay with those who dwell therein throughout the entire year.
The chalking of the doors is a centuries-old practice throughout the world, though it appears to be somewhat less well-known in the United States. It is, however, an easy tradition to adopt, and a great practice whereby we dedicate our year to God from its very outset, asking His blessing on our homes and on all who live, work, or visit them there.
And so, I wish you a blessed Epiphany and the rest of the year. May God be with you!