Three Kings to arrive on camels

The annual parade marks the end of the Christmas season in Prague

Two events will mark Three Kings Day on Jan. 6, the traditional end of the Christmas season. There will be a parade downtown and a smaller celebration at Prague Zoo.

A parade of costumed figures will go across Charles Bridge. The kings, traditionally known as Kašpar, Melichar and Baltazar, will be on camels and accompanied by drummers and trumpeters.

The event starts with a mass at St Thomas’ Church at 2:30 pm and the parade starts at 3 pm at Josefská Street by St Thomas’ Church and goes to Mostecká Street, across Charles Bridge to Karlova Street, Mariánské náměstí and Malé náměstí and then Old Town Square, where there will be short ceremony and the Czech Christmas Mass by Jakub Jan Ryba will be heard at 4 pm.

On the stage in Old Town Square, the Three Kings will give Baby Jesus gold, frankincense and myrrh. Kašpar will read a message to the inhabitants of Prague. Finally, the Three Kings and the Holy Family will great the crowd.

The parade is held in connection with a charitable collection for Charita, run by the Archdiocese of Prague. Funds go to help the poor, assist victims of violence, support Belarusian children in Prague and operate a hospital in Uganda.

In addition to money, people can bring gifts for children from disadvantaged families and shelters. A basket will be placed at the stage where people can put children's books, toys, games or school supplies.

At Prague Zoo, figures representing the Three Kings will be there from 10 am to 2 pm, marking buildings with the traditional K+M+B symbol and giving out treats to some of the animals. The climax of the event is at noon by the camel exhibition, where camels will get a treat.

Aside from organized events, people during Jan. 6 may see various trios of people in crowns and costumes going from door to door to mark buildings with the initials K+M+B and the year 2019, as this a Czech tradition for good luck.

According to Christian tradition, several kings from the east were guided by a star to find the newborn Baby Jesus. The exact number of kings is not specified in the New Testament of the Bible, but they are variously known as the Magi, the Wise Men or the Kings. The number three is due to the idea that they brought three symbolic gifts, which have been interpreted in various ways. Gold is obviously well-known as a source of wealth. Frankincense is an incense used in religious ceremonies. Myrrh is a plant resin used in some ancient medicines and for embalming.

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