Every year Christians mark the Epiphany of the Lord solemnity by blessing their homes.
By reciting prayers, sprinkling holy water and marking their doors with chalk, Christians remember the manifestation, or Epiphany, of Christ as savior to the world. The feast was instituted in memory of the three Wise Men, or Magi, who traveled from afar to bring gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the Christ child.
The feast is traditionally celebrated Jan. 6, or the 12th day after Christmas. In the United States, the feast is observed the first Sunday following New Year’s Day.
Using chalk, a member of a household will write the initials of the three Wise Men over a door: “C” standing for Caspar, “M” standing for Melchior and “B” standing for Balthasar. The initials also stand for “Christus mansionem benedicat,” Latin for “Christ bless this house.” Then they will write the year, split in half, on either side of the initials, like this:
20 + C+M+B + 14
Prayers of the blessing are recited and the members of the household walk through each room to sprinkle holy water. Visit the USCCB website to access the “Blessing of the Home” prayers.