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Three Kings Day

Three Kings Daypicture credit: Bolando, pl.wikipedia.org
The holiday of Three Kings or Trzech Króli (January 6) marks the end of the Christmas season in impressive style throughout Poland. A wholly Catholic holiday, 3 Kings honours Kaspar, Melchior and Balthazar, the three wise men who visited Jesus at his birth. Celebrations range from small to grand but often include a parade welcoming the wise men, with characters passing out candy and children dressed in colours signifying Asia, Africa and Europe (the respective homelands of the wise men). Mass is also a compulsory part of the Three Kings holiday as well, with families picking up a piece of blessed chalk during the service that is taken home and used to write the year and the initials “KMB,” with a cross between each letter, above the front door. This tradition is said to protect the family from sickness and misfortune for the year. Fun is also had during the day’s feast when a Three Kings cake is served with either an almond or coin baked inside. Whoever is fortunate enough to land the surprise slice is considered king (or queen) for the day and lucky for the rest of the year. If your cake – which varies by region and can be anything from sponge to fruitcake – is decorated with a crown the lucky almond-eater gets the honour of wearing it. An additional reason to celebrate: In 2011 Parliament officially restored the date as a non-working national public holiday in Poland for the first time since it was cancelled by the communists 50 years earlier, so there’s no need to go work! 

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