Three Kings’ Day (Tři králové), traditionally celebrated on the twelfth day of Christmas, signifies the end of the holiday season in the Czech lands while offering an opportunity to extend charitable giving by making donations to roving wise men.
Celebrated elsewhere in the world as Epiphany, on the biblical timeline it’s when the wise men were said to have arrived in Bethlehem bearing their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
In the Czech Republic children dress up as kings and go from home to home from January 1 carolling and collecting money for charity. (“My tři králové jdeme k Vám, štěstí, zdraví vinšujeme Vám” – “We three kings are coming to you and wishing you health and happiness.”).
Following the visit, the letters K + M + B are chalked onto the doors of visited homes – the initials stand for the names of the wise men Kašpar, Melichar, and Baltazar or the Latin saying Christus mansionem benedicat (“May Jesus Christ bless this house”), with the crosses representing the Holy Trinity.
In Prague, the occasion is marked by a festive annual processional led by costumed kings on camels, who are accompanied by drummers and trumpeters.
This year’s parade will take place on Sunday, January 6 at 15:00. Join the traditional procession of the Three Kings on camels from Malostranské Square via the Charles Bridge to the Old Town Square, where the Czech Christmas Mass by Jakub Jan Ryba will be performed.
As in past years, the parade will begin at the Church of St Thomas in the Lesser Town and head over the Charles Bridge into Old Town Square where the kings will bestow their gifts in a live nativity ceremony followed by a performance of the Czech Christmas Mass by Jakub Jan Ryba.
Just as the kings bring gifts to the newborn baby, you can help children from socially disadvantaged families and orphanages. A basket will be placed near the stage where people can donate children’s books, toys, games, or school supplies.
For details and a full line-up of events see praha.charita.cz
The Three Kings collection kicks off across the Czech Republic January 1 and lasts until January 14th. It is the country’s largest volunteer event.