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08 December 2018

Christmas Tradition : The Gifts of the Magi

The presentation of the gifts of the Magi is an integral part of the story of the birth of Jesus.

Every year during the month of December, many people direct their minds to the story about the birth of Jesus, revered by faithful Christians as the Savior of the world. Although the nativity scene always shows the three wise men (also called the three kings) adoring a newborn baby and bearing gifts, the biblical account indicates that their visitation did not occur on the night that Mary gave birth. It was a few years later. 

Yet the erroneous tradition persists. There is also a question or debate as to whether or not there were three men at all. Because three gifts are mentioned, the assumption was made that there was one wise man bringing one gift. 3 gifts must equal 3 gift-bearers. The fact is that the number of men from the East who were led by the Star of Bethlehem was not recorded in the scriptures. Though one can question the total number of men that comprise what we refer to as “The Magi”, everybody accepts that there were 3 gifts and these offerings were gold, frankincense and myrrh.




  • Trivia: What were the names of the three kings (wise men or magi)?  The 12 days of Christmas ends with the Feast of the Epiphany.  (Don't check the Bible story.  The answer is not in there.)
Gold: one of the first precious metals known to mankind; a symbol of great wealth; often presented as a donation to a king's treasury in exchange for his goodwill.

Frankincense: a useful gift for a holy man, as it was often used by those who served in a temple or other place designated as a worship center.

Myrrh: an ingredient in anointing oil but also used for embalming to prepare a body for burial. An “anointing” is when a person is set apart to perform a specific task or mission. A mixture of myrrh and aloes was used by those who wrapped the body of Jesus and laid Him to rest in the tomb. Each one of these gifts was very costly. But there is nothing in the gospel accounts to indicate that Jesus or his parents, a humble carpenter and his wife, lived an extravagant lavish lifestyle. Do suppose they took the gold and frankincense and gave it to those in charge of the temple treasury?  After all, they were very devout Jews. Do you ever wonder if Mary, the mother of Jesus, saved the gift of myrrh to be used for her Son's burial?  It seems like something a loving mother would do; especially if she knows, in advance, what will happen to her child.


(Images found at glitter-graphics.com)

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Original content 1st published at Daily Two Cents, Dec 7, 2016.
That site shut down Aug 2018.


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