Too bad our British guest wasn’t around – the one who passed through our house here in Germany last summer and, noticing what he thought was chalk graffiti above our front door, began rubbing it off with his hand. “Don’t!” someone yelled. “It’s a blessing.”
On Saturday evening, the blessing was touched up (and updated) by four Sternsinger, or “star singers”: twelve-year-old Benedikt, who was dressed as an angel and carried a large cardboard star on a stick, and three other boys dressed as the Wise Men (his younger brother Josef; and two friends, Friedemann and Tobias).
It was the weekend of Three King’s Day, and while there was no public celebration in our village (when we lived in New York City, our family used to watch the annual El Dia de los Reyes parade wind through Spanish Harlem every January 6), our holiday was marked by something just as beautiful: a personal visit from the Heilige Drei Könige, the “three holy kings.”
After our visitors sang a song, they recited a poem explaining the purpose of their visit – in short, to commemorate the visit of the three kings to Bethlehem, where they presented the Holy Family with gifts; and to encourage today’s faithful to honor Christ by giving to the poor.
Every year – and not just in our region, but in parishes across Catholic Germany, Switzerland, and Austria – the Sternsinger focus on raising funds for a specific cause chosen by their diocese. This year, the beneficiary was an initiative supporting children in Kenya.
After passing around a collection tin for coins and bills, our visitors sang another song, and proceeded to bless our house, first with incense, and then by fixing the chalk motto over our front door: 20 C + M + B 17
Then it was time for dinner, and an added blessing: the Sternsinger’s mother, who had driven them from the nearby university town of Jena, had brought dessert.
Chris Zimmerman lives with his wife at Holzland Bruderhof House in Germany.