In the Christmas tradition, the Three Kings are fascinating figures who deliver the first gifts to the Child Jesus. The advantages of Jesus are gold, frankincense, and myrrh; each has a significant meaning. Today we want to talk to you about these particular gifts and what they represent.
The Three Kings are the protagonists of stories and legends combined with popular folklore, historical events, traditions, and religion. Our article tells you about these three figures of Christian history, their origin, and their names.
The Three Kings, protagonists of stories and legends
The Three Kings are the protagonists of stories and legends combined with popular folklore, historical events, traditions, and religion. We know that together they went on a long journey with the sole purpose of paying homage to the “King of the Jews,” guided by the comet, bringing with them some genuinely precious gifts. They went through pitfalls and faced numerous dangers until they reached the hut in Bethlehem.
In some cases, the story of the Three Wise Men is intertwined with that of the Befana, another indispensable character in the Christmas imagination. According to tradition, the Befana was about to join the three travelers, but she, left behind, dedicated her life to bringing gifts to all the children to make up for her lack of not joining the Three Kings on their long journey.
Both figures have the task of bringing the gifts of Jesus, but only those of the Magi contain a very profound symbolism, the mystery of the dual nature of Jesus, Man, and God. According to some, gold symbolizes faith, frankincense represents holiness, and myrrh indicates passion. According to others, gold represents charity, incense symbolizes faith, and myrrh represents free will.
Representation of the gifts of Jesus
Gold: light, sun, strength, and energy
The gift of Melchior, the eldest of the Magi, is gold. The name itself means king, and gold symbolizes Jesus’ royalty. It is no coincidence that gold is the gift reserved for a king and the Magi Jesus was the King of Kings. This precious metal is associated with light, the sun, and energy. Over the centuries, it has been used to glorify rulers and gods.
According to legend, Melchior offered this gift as a golden apple, a symbol of the world’s perfection, and thirty denarii. When Jesus touched the apple with his hands, it was reduced to dust to symbolize that he had come to bring a new world. The thirty denarii instead would have been those that Abraham used to buy the burial field for himself and his family. They were the same offered to Joseph’s brothers when they sold him as an enslaved person. And then, once he reached the Temple of Jerusalem, Melchior would take them as a gift to Jesus. Egypt, along with other gifts. A sick shepherd found them along the road that led him to Jerusalem to be healed by Jesus while he became a man. The shepherd offered them to Jesus as a gift. The same thirty denarii were used to pay for the betrayal of Judas.
Incense: the essence of life
The gift of Gaspare, the youngest of the three, is incensed, and it is a resin from the bark of plants found in the Arabian peninsula and northeastern Africa. This incense is also called olibanum and has been used for religious ceremonies and rituals since ancient times.
The smoke produced after burning is considered an offer pleasing to the gods and useful for meditation and purification. In ceremonies, incense was also used for its disinfectant and healing properties. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antioxidant charge, it is considered a precious element for the health of the body.
With this gift, Gasparre wished to honor Jesus with something precious and helpful in preserving the body. At the same time, he wanted to recognize the Divine nature, with a gift usually offered as a sacrifice to the gods and burned inside their temples.
Myrrh: a precious substance with a thousand properties
The gift of Belshazzar, the dark-skinned Magus, is myrrh. It is a different resin than incense, originating from Somalia and Ethiopia. It is no coincidence that it is precisely the one who wears it that among the three Magi has somatic traits that can be traced back to the locals.
But why does one want to represent Belshazzar as an African? The reasons are very complex and develop over time. First, the kings had to represent three continents and the three human races, as expressed in medieval times. Furthermore, these characters spread a new vision of Africans in European peoples. They were accustomed to associating the color of their skin with demonic creatures. This way, an attempt was made to remove this conception from people’s minds by comparing the figure of the African to that of the Magi.
What interests us, however, is the meaning of Belshazzar’s gift, myrrh. Its unique scent was used for its antiseptic and antibacterial properties, mixed in oils and conditioners.
Myrrh symbolizes the humanity of Jesus because it was usually used in the cult of the dead. Since ancient Egypt, it has been used in the embalming process to symbolize the victory of life over death. In the Passion of Christ, myrrh is mixed with other substances to alleviate the suffering of Jesus.
We know that together they went on a long journey with the sole purpose of paying homage to the “King of the Jews,” guided by the comet, bringing with them the gifts of Jesus. They went through pitfalls and faced numerous dangers until they reached the hut in Bethlehem.
With these gifts, the Three Kings gave the Child Jesus a spice and two incense, all precious materials linked to spiritual life. Religious worship, the dead, the care of the body, and life’s triumph.