Byzantine depiction of the Three Magi in a 7th-century mosaic at Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo.
We are on for the yankee swap tonight. We have 20 confirmed yeses and 29 confirmed maybes. There are invitations outstanding, but this world of teenagers--one needs to stay flexible. So, I am keeping my head on straight, not worrying about enough food etc. What will be will be. If the RSVPs are casual, so can my hostessing be the same. Kitty and friend, Emily, dipped pretzels in chocolate. We have mini pizza bagels and chips from the regional. Gorp and cookies--also thanks to Kitty, Alex and Emily. No tree yet, but the chandelier is decorated lavishly and we have my wreaths and our marshmallow wreaths nailed to the wall. So, there is a general air of festivity despite no tree. And if the trial music sampled by Alex promises to be the play list (Biggie)--then, that's all we need. I
t was an up and back to Rochester yesterday. Big news was the amazing thing that UV ink on uncoated paper does. It sits up off the paper and one can get a more solid hit than before. Plus, with the uv inks, they are heated and set before they come off the press (much like web) so the offsetting cannot happen along with other gems of problems that happen with wet ink. I am on this right now. Additionally, they have this new method of printing a heavy (seems like a varnish) that sits off the page dimensionally, sort of a poor man's thermography that could be very interesting to investigate. As usual, I love working with the folks at Cohber. They never slack off with the active problem solving and energy they bring to the printed work. I hope I have more to send their way. They are a really great partner. The drive up was beautiful and wintery with the blues and lilacs in the landscape. The drive back was in the dark, so I got a dose of the confabulous lighting displays in Waterloo and Romulus. All in all, very pleasant way to finish up the week.
While at Cohber, I did some research on the three kings. You know, they were never cited in the Bible. Wise men, yes. Kings No. However, the Kings are celebrated nonetheless--particularly during Ephiphany (January 6) when many cultures eat variations of the King Cake and celebrate their quest to see the child. Wikipedia on the Magi says:
Magi (Latin plural of magus, ancient Greek magos, Persian "مغ", English singular 'magian', 'mage', 'magus', 'magusian', 'magusaean') is a term, used since at least the 4th century BCE, to denote a follower of Zoroaster, or rather, a follower of what the Hellenistic world associated Zoroaster with, which was – in the main – the ability to read the stars, and manipulate the fate that the stars foretold. The meaning prior to Hellenistic period is uncertain. Pervasive throughout the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Asia until late antiquity and beyond, Greek mágos "magian"/Magician was influenced by (and eventually displaced) Greek goēs, the older word for a practitioner of magic, to include astrology, alchemy and other forms of esoteric knowledge. This association was in turn the product of the Hellenistic fascination for (Pseudo-)Zoroaster, who was perceived by the Greeks to be the "Chaldean" "founder" of the Magi and "inventor" of both astrology and magic. Among the skeptical thinkers of the period, the term 'magian' acquired a negative connotation and was associated with tricksters and conjurers. This pejorative meaning survives in the words "magic" and "magician". In English, the term "magi" is most commonly used in reference to the Gospel of Matthew's "wise men from the East", or "three wise men" (though that number does not actually appear in Matthew's account, and various sources placed the number anywhere between two and twelve). The plural "magi" entered the English language around 1200, in reference to the Biblical magi of Matthew 2:1. The singular appears considerably later, in the late 14th century, when it was borrowed from Old French in the meaning magician together with magic.
Wiki on the Three Kings gets into some detail>> Excerpted from the Wikipedia Three Kings page are some of the traditions that tickled my fancy:
* Holidays celebrating the arrival of the Magi traditionally recognise a sharp distinction between the date of their arrival and the date of Jesus' birth. Matthew's introduction of the Magi gives the reader no reason to believe that they were present on the night of the birth, instead stating that they arrived at some point after Jesus had been born, and the Magi are described as leading Herod to assume that Jesus is up to one year old.
* Christianity celebrates the Magi on the day of Epiphany, January 6, the last of the twelve days of Christmas, particularly in the Spanish-speaking parts of the world. In these Spanish-speaking areas, the three kings (Sp. "los Reyes Magos de Oriente", also "Los Tres Reyes Magos") receive wish letters from children and magically bring them gifts on the night before Epiphany. In Spain, each one of the Magi is supposed to represent one different continent, Europe (Caspar), Asia (Melchior) and Africa (Balthasar). According to the tradition, the Magi come from the Orient on their camels to visit the houses of all the children; much like Santa Claus with his reindeer, they visit everyone in one night. In some areas, children prepare a drink for each of the Magi, it is also traditional to prepare food and drink for the camels, because this is the only night of the year when they eat.
* Spanish cities organize cabalgatas in the evening, in which the kings and their servants parade and throw sweets to the children (and parents) in attendance. The cavalcade of the three kings in Alcoi claims to be the oldest in the world; the participants who portray the kings and pages walk through the crowd, giving presents to the children directly
* A tradition in most of Central Europe involves writing the initials of the three kings' names above the main door of the home to confer blessings on the occupants for the New Year. For example, 20 + C + M + B + 08. The initials may also represent "Christus mansionem benedicat" (Christ bless this house). In Catholic parts of Germany and in Austria, this is done by so called Sternsinger (star singers), children, dressed up as the Magi, carrying the star. In exchange for writing the initials, they collect money for charity projects in the third world.
* In France and Belgium, the holiday is celebrated with a special tradition: within a family, a cake is shared, which contains a small figure of baby Jesus, known as the broad bean. Whoever gets the "bean" is "crowned" king for the remainder of the holiday and wears a cardboard crown purchased with the cake. The practice is known as tirer les Rois: drawing the Kings. A queen is sometimes also chosen.
* This tradition also exists in Spain, but with one small variant; the cake, in this case actually a ring-shaped pastry or Roscón de Reyes, is most commonly bought, not baked, and it contains a small figurine of a baby Jesus and a dry broad bean. The one who gets the figurine is crowned, but whoever gets the bean has to pay the value of the cake to the person who originally bought it.
* In Mexico they have the same ring-shaped cake Rosca de Reyes (Kings Bagel or Thread), it contains figurines of the baby Jesus. The figurine of the baby Jesus is typically hidden inside the cake. Whoever gets a figurine is supposed to take the figurine to the local church and buy tamales for the Candelaria feast on February the second, which is the feast of the presentation of Jesus at the Temple.
* In Puerto Rico children cut grass or greenery on January 5th and put it in a box under their bed. The grass is for the camels. Children receive gifts on January 6, which is called Epiphany, and is traditionally the day in which the Magi arrived bearing gifts for the Christ child. Christmas starts in December and ends in January after Epiphany.
* In New Orleans, Louisiana, parts of south Texas, and surrounding regions, a similar ring-shaped cake known as a "King Cake" traditionally becomes available in bakeries from the Epiphany through Mardi Gras. The baby Jesus is represented by a small, plastic doll inserted into the cake from underneath, and the person who gets the slice with the figurine is expected to buy or bake the next King Cake. There is wide variation among the types of pastry that can be called a King Cake, but most feature baked cinnamon-flavored twisted dough, thin frosting, with additional sugar on top in the traditional Mardi Gras colors of gold, green, and purple. To prevent accidental injury or choking, the plastic doll is frequently not hidden in the cake at the bakery, but instead included in the packaging for optional use. Mardi Gras-style beads and doubloons may be included as well.
So in some worlds from Advent to Easter is just one party of cakes and celebration. From what we know here, we entirely miss the opportunity to eat cake and revel. But, as you can see, there are pictures from now until January 6th at least. Post Advent calendar?