Thursday, 7 January 2010

K+M+B = 2010

What is the meaning of this arcane formula? According to ancient lore, the K, M and B stand for Kašpar, Melichar and Baltazar, the Czech names of the three wise men; and 2010 of course needs no explanation.

But why the mathematical symbols? Well, the answer is that whoever chalked this up on the restaurant door must imagine that the + is an addition sign. In fact, it isn't. The 'code' is religious, and the + is the sign of the cross, following each name. The correct version should be K+M+B+ 2010.

The lower photo (taken from a building which is due to be redeveloped) shows a more correct version, with the cross actually inserted into the B, and the year written around the letters, as is the tradition on Czech gravestones, too (where today's date would be written as 20 7/1 10). Notice also that the message is often left up for a whole year (or more, as in this case!)

But this example poses yet another question: there's a C instead of the normal K. That is because an alternative explanation of the inscription - and the reason it is scrawled on doorways at this time of year - is that CMB stands for 'Christus Mansionem Benedicat', or 'May Christ Bless This House'.


Luis Gomez said...

Great images. Nice capture.

Jilly said...

My goodness Alex. How extraordinary. I love your explanation of these symbols.

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