Every year on Epiphany, which is held on the 6th of January, house and home are blessed with burning incense and holy water
The Feast of Epiphany, also called the Three Kings Day, is celebrated along the South Tyrolean Wine Road with a special custom, the so-called “Rachn geahn” (going to burn incense). All is prepared on the previous day: chalk, incense and holy water are blessed in the church together with salt, which prevents the holy water from freezing. On the evening of January 5 or on the day of January 6, the whole family moves through the house by swivelling an incense pan with charcoal embers and asking for protection for house and home in the new year.
C-M-B - “Christus mansionem benedicat” (Christ Bless this House) - as well as the date of the new year are written on the door with blessed chalk. More popularly, these letters are interpreted as the initials of Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar, the Three Kings. But what about those three wise men which followed the star to Bethlehem? Once they were described as magicians and stargazers, but from the 6th century AD on, the three men have been called “kings”. About three centuries later, they got their today known names.
Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar were and are still considered as the symbols of the three stages of life - childhood and youth, adult lift and old age -, of the three continents at the time of the Greek geographer Herodotus - Europe, Asia and Libya (Africa) - and of the three gifts they brought to Jesus the child - gold, one of the most valuable materials on earth, incense, a gift for a king, and myrrh, a resin which was of extraordinary medical value in ancient times. By the way: Also the carol singers go from house to house on this special day.