Epiphany

The Epiphany or Feast of the Three Kings – Trzech Kroli

On Twelfth Night, Jan. 6, Poles take small boxes containing chalk, a gold ring, incense and a piece of amber, in memory of the gifts of the Magi, to church to be blessed. Once at home, they inscribe the date and “K+M+B” with the blessed chalk above every door in the house to provide protection against illness and misfortune for those within. For 2013, it would look like “20 K+M+B 13.” The letters, with a cross after each one, stand for names of the Three Kings — Kaspar, Melchior and Balthasar. They remain above the doors all year until they are inadvertently dusted off or replaced by new markings the next year.

King Cake with a lucky coin or almond is baked on this day. The one to receive the piece with a coin or almond must host the next party. The Feast of the Three Kings ends the swiete wieczory — the twelve holy nights that began on Christmas Day — and signals the beginning of zapusty or carnival time.