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What does 20*C+M+B*13 mean?

Old May 15th, 2013, 02:33 PM
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What does 20*C+M+B*13 mean?

My husband & I recently travelled through the Black Forest / Schwabische Alb region and noticed the symbols 20*C+M+B*13 written in chalk on the frame above the front door of many houses.

We asked a young Germany man, who spoke a little English, and, it's obvious that the numbers refer to the year, but I think he was trying to tell us the letters refer to the gifts brought by the Magi?

Can anyone help decipher the symbology?

Robyn
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Old May 15th, 2013, 02:41 PM
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Here you go;

Each year on the wonderful Feast of the Epiphany chalk is blessed at Church and people are invited to take some home and mark their homes with a prayer for blessing. The priests are also very happy to visit homes and do the blessing. Seeing the marking at the door is a gentle reminder of God’s blessing, and a sign to all of a Christian home.

Using chalk either above the door, outside, or at the side of the door, outside or inside, the markings 20 + C + M + B + 13 are made, or (20+K+M+B). 20 and 12 being the year, C (K), M, B being the intitials of the traditional names of the wise men, Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar, they can also stand for Christus Mansionem Benedicat, the Latin words meaning, May Christ bless this home.
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Old May 15th, 2013, 02:49 PM
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One often learns something surprisingly new from skimming this Forum. So glad I opened this mysteriously titled post. Now I know something truly unique; which is why most of us travel, isn't it?
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Old May 15th, 2013, 03:15 PM
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Amen!
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Old May 15th, 2013, 03:20 PM
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How interesting!
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Old May 15th, 2013, 03:35 PM
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In the Rheingau these blessings are above the front door on the architrave.

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Old May 15th, 2013, 03:59 PM
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Thank you, Aramis, for the explanation. That makes sense now, what the German gentleman was trying to say about the wise men.

Mystery solved!

Robyn
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Old May 15th, 2013, 04:02 PM
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Great explanation Aramis. Thanks.
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Old May 15th, 2013, 04:23 PM
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Ah yes. I actually knew that. When I was little, our priest came to our house to bless it and wrote KMB. My brother was a baby and I remember asking my mom if he blessed my brother's diapers too. The things one remembers.
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Old May 15th, 2013, 08:21 PM
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What nukesafe said.
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Old May 15th, 2013, 10:42 PM
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Let me add one detail to what Aramis said in the first post:

These inscriptions are neither done by a priest nor by the inmates of the houses themselves, but by the Star Singers. Every year around Epiphany the catholic church does this campaign: groups of children dress up as the Three Magi and their entourage. They are then blessed at church and sent out to visit houses, sing their songs, bring the blessing to the houses, and collect donations for charity. This campaign takes place all over the country under the patronage of the Federal President.
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Old May 16th, 2013, 11:58 AM
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quokka - Thanks for the additional information about the symbology. I'm assuming your reference to the Federal President is to Angela Merkel?

Robyn
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Old May 16th, 2013, 12:04 PM
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One of my favorite memories of life in Germany...I always looked forward to "The Three Kings" entourage arriving at our door...just too cute!
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Old May 16th, 2013, 12:42 PM
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I'm assuming your reference to the Federal President is to Angela Merkel?

NO.
The Federal President (Bundespräsident) is the head of state elected for a 5-year term by the Federal Council (Bundesversammlung), who can be re-elected for another consecutive 5-year term.
Their role is largely symbolic and ceremonial with little political power, except in a few cases.
The current president is Joachim Gauck, elected last year.
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Old May 16th, 2013, 12:58 PM
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As Alec said. The Federal President (Bundespräsident) is the head of state.

Angela Merkel is our Chancelor (Bundeskanlerin), the head of the current government, equivalent to a Prime Minister, and ranked no. 3 in the state. No. 2 is the chairman of the parliament (Bundestagspräsident), currently Norbert Lammert.
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Old May 16th, 2013, 05:58 PM
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Thank you for the clarification of Germany's governmental system.

klondike - The whole custom sounds very charming. I've been trying to envision the descriptions of the event. It's nice to be able to learn about the customs of other cultures. I guess I started noticing the inscriptions because I'm always taking pictures of doors (my husband jokes that I could do a photography book just about European doors).

Thanks eveyone, for sharing...

Robyn
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