Since the Middle Ages, it has been a tradition to bless homes on January 6th, Epiphany (Greek for epiphaneia, manifestation), the celebration of Christ’s revealing to the world. Chalk would be blessed and used to write the year and the initials CMB on the doors or lintels of houses, marking them as places of Christ’s hospitality. The initials had two meanings: the letters represent Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, traditionally the names of the three Magi, to whom Christ was revealed; the letters also represent the Latin phrase, Christus Mansionem Benedicat, May Christ bless this house. People would go from home to home chalking doors and enjoying each others’ hospitality.
I’ve loved this tradition since I heard about it from my friend Kimberlee. In researching the practice for this year, I found out that there is whole tradition in Germany that celebrates Epiphany and the CMB blessing. It is called the Star Singers, or sternsinger. Over half a million children dress up as the Wise Magi, boys and girls, usually 4 (since we have no idea how many there really were!) with a star on the end of broom handle. They sing from house to house raising awareness and money for issues regarding the suffering of children globally. It bring tears to my eyes each time I think about it. This movement is now in its 56th year, and this year it is highlighting the Malawi child refugees and refugee children globally. You can read more about the movement here. Their motto is Segen bringen, segen sein, Bring the blessing to be a blessing.
If you are looking for a way to close the Christmas season, and look ahead into the new year, find some chalk and write 20+C+M+B+14 above your front door as you pray for God’s blessing on your home and all who enter. Even more, gather some friends, kiddos, and family and chalk each others’ doors, praying and singing as you go! Maybe we can start Star Singing in our communities, bring some beauty, fun, music, and blessing, while raising awareness of the needs of children worldwide.