THE THREE KINGS

Yesterday was the Feast of the Epiphany, also known as the Day of the Three Kings.

Here in Spain, it is called El Día de los Reyes and is celebrated in a special way. Just like every year, there was a colorful parade in the town center which allowed the children to see the “arrival” of the Reyes Magos: Melchor who represents Arabia, Gaspar who represents the Orient, and Balthazar who represents Africa.

Día de los Reyes photo by Denim and Gray

Día de los Reyes photo by Denim and Gray Día de los Reyes photo by Denim and Gray Día de los Reyes photo by Denim and Gray

The Bible says that the three kings also gifted the baby Jesus with gold, frankincense and myrrh. Thus, it has a become a tradition for Spanish children (and many adults!) to receive gifts on this day as well.

Below is a picture of the Shrine of the Three Kings at the Cathedral in Cologne, Germany. The triple sarcophagus in gold and silver holds the bones of the Magi. It is located above and behind the Cathedral’s high altar (which is why it was difficult to take a front-view shot).

Three Kings Shrine photo 2 by Denim and Gray at WordPress

In the background: the shrine at the Cologne Cathedral which contains the remains of the Three Kings. According to records, the bones could be “assembled into nearly complete bodies: the one in his early youth, the second in his early manhood, the third was rather aged.”

The relics were originally kept in Constantinople but were moved to Milan in 344. Eight centuries later, in 1164, they were entrusted to the Archbishop of Cologne.

The shrine was built sometime in 1180 or 1181 and was completed circa 1225.

Three Kings Shrine photo by Denim and Gray at WordPress

The exterior of the 12th century reliquary is covered with intricate representations of prophets and apostles. Work on the shrine was finished in a span of 45 years.

The remains of the Three Kings were deemed so important that the Cathedral was constructed in 1248 to house them. The shrine was opened in 1864, less than two decades before the Cathedral was finished in 1880. (Yes, the Cathedral took 632 years to build!)

Cologne Cathedral photo by Denim and Gray at WordPress

The Cologne Cathedral is officially known as the High Cathedral of St. Peter. It is the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe.

Since I didn’t receive any gift yesterday, I’m thinking of buying one for myself today. A new font for my latest designs, perhaps?

In other news: The sale season has started. Oh boy.

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CUDDLY CHRISTMAS

Today I’m sharing with you this charming window display from Steiff, which we saw in Cologne, Germany. Isn’t it so sweet?  I love Christmas but I love Christmas WITH teddy bears even more!!

Steiff window display photo 1 by Denim and Gray on WordPress

Steiff window display photo 7 by Denim and Gray on WordPress

Steiff window display photo 6 by Denim and Gray on WordPress

Steiff window display photo by Denim and Gray on WordPress

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OH CHRISTMAS TREE, OH CHRISTMAS TREE

It’s the most popular symbol of the Christmas season. I’m talking about the Christmas tree, of course.riga03

Did you know that Riga in Latvia is the home of the first Christmas tree? Legend says that it was first erected over 500 years ago, and was decorated with paper flowers and burnt on the bonfire after the ceremony.

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This tree was standing on the exact spot where the first recorded evergreen tree used in a New Year/Christmas celebration was put up: in front of the House of the Blackheads at the Town Hall Square in Riga. Of course, if the city is known as the home of the first Christmas tree, then it’s only appropriate that the holidays come early to the city, too. We took this photo during the first week of September.

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Some countries celebrate the Christmas season way past New Year’s Day and the Epiphany. The ribbon-adorned tree in the capital of Andorra, for instance, was still up during the last week of January.

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In the German city of Cologne, you will find the biggest Christmas market right in front of the Cathedral, and under the tallest natural Christmas tree in the region.

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The tree also supports the market’s grand canopy of lights.
leidentreeFinally, here’s a picture of the floating Christmas tree in Leiden, Netherlands. Yes, it was floating because that’s a (frozen) canal right there.

Hope you enjoyed this post!