And Gutenberg Lived Here: Of Camels, Wise Men, and Star Singers

Although Epiphany, the day of the three kings, is actually on the sixth of January,

and is an incredibly popular holiday here,

(especially at a certain famous hamburger fast food restaurant,

where everyone wants the paper crown so they can be Melchior)

the annual “Star Singers Day”  was actually yesterday.

So in honor of the courageous kids,

who ring doorbell after doorbell in the freezing cold here

dressed only in striped pants and massive sultan hats,

relics from someone’s Ali Baba birthday party,

I’d like to tell you about the day of the star singers.
Yes, I know we just had a rather impressive series of holidays recently:

all hallows eve, all saints’ day,

day of atonement, day of eternal life,

the start of the carnival season,

Christmas eve, Christmas day parts one and two,

and New Years eve.
And now…… the camels arrive.
Yup, Wednesday was three kings day-

Epiphany in the church calendar-

the day when, after marching the three wisemen and their camels across the tabletop in front of the manger for two weeks,

they finally arrive.
Which means they have seen the baby Jesus, and the creche can now be taken down.
And then, on Sunday, the  “star singers” arrive.

A band of children,

three of them dressed as the wisemen,

and a youngish priest who can’t really play the guitar he is carrying.

To bless the houses,

by singing one of the songs about the three kings,

and to write CMB

and the date,

over the door lentel:

20 C+M+B 16

Which officially stands for “Christ, bless this house”

apparently in early middle latin,

although there appears to be a problem with the translation of house.

Which no one recognizes,

since no one here knows anything but the unofficial version.


that CMB  stands for  Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar.

The three wise men,


somewhere along the way,

surprisingly developed names.

since it isn’t Biblical.

(Nor is the fact that there are three of them)


Biblical or not,

to not have CMB over the door,

in felt marker, no less,

is considered a sure sign you are a shirker of social responsibilites.

Or are a heathen,

since even the protestants don’t dare not to take part.

Which brings us to the shaking of the can.

The large collecting can they carry.

The shaking of which shows it is time to pay up.

Since the basis of the house blessing,

sponsored by the Catholic church,

is to collect for charity.

Which isn’t a bad thing.

Since it brings in a lot of the revenue for social projects over here.

Some say the majority.

I just wish they’d tune the guitar.
Epiphany is also the day when the city takes down the last of the Christmas decorations,

and the trash removal people pick up the last naked remains of the Christmas trees-

which a lot of Germans dump,

Swedish style,

out the window, so they don’t have to hunt down each fallen needle on the four staircases on the way down.
The trees are then dragged to a communal pile on the street corner to await recyling as a Swedish furniture house coffee table,

one lowly string of tinsel and a stem from a broken ornament hanging off of each the only sign left of glories past.
And this, of course, brings us to New Year’s resolutions.
Which the majority of happy holidayers,

in the cold light of Epiphany,

have, at the latest by this date, broken.
And tossed out the window.
Tinsel hanging limp.
It must have to do with the season, but somehow, things thought about between Dec 24 and Jan 6:

losing weight,

finding a better job,

helping more in the community,

making friends who really are friends,

saving more money,

being a kinder person,

talking more to God-

seem to largely go the way of the dodo,

when faced with the cold hard reality of minus six degrees with wind-chill factor,

the latest paleo-atkinson-only rainbow colored food diet,

a pile of bills,

and the old “back to work.”

And kids in gold lame and gigantic turbans pulling a stuffed camel.

There went “be kinder.”

copyright 2016

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