Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Three Kings' Eve

In present-day England, Twelfth Night passes without much interest, but in mediaeval times the master and servants in the household traditionally swapped roles, with the lowest of the servants becoming king for a day, and vice versa - a reversal of roles which forms the basis of Shakespeare's play of that name.

In Czech, the comedy is called 'Večer tříkrálový' or Three Kings' Night, and over here a similar tradition is still enacted in the days leading up to 6 January, with children dressing up as the three kings and collecting money for charity.

Front doors are daubed with the names of the magi: K+M+B (Kašpar, Melichar and Baltazar); and, as you can see, the characters even find their way on to the bonnets of parked cars. Tomorrow I'll say a little more about this interesting custom. What has happened to Baltazar? Well, he wouldn't fit on, so the next car along was decorated with his portrait. Here he is - looking rather the worse for wear - too much slivovice, I'll be bound...


Jilly said...

This is great fun and a most original way to show us the tradition.

Julie said...


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