Christmas Three


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Cutting down trees is always bad for the environment. (False.)

Conversely, the sheep got bigger, with enormous tails.

The Three Gifts Rule: Dematerializing Christmas

The kings also set out singly, since they ruled over lands that were far apart, and came together only when they reached Jerusalem. Conveniently, a lamp-like star guided each of them; but had it not hung before their noses as close as a fish on a line for kings, not being astronomers, could not read the sky and needed leading , they would never have made it.

As the kings arrived in Jerusalem the star or stars disappeared, and a thick fog descended. They were taken in, too, by King Herod, who invited them to dine: traditionally on a roasted cock which, in honour of the true king in the stable, rose up and crowed.


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Herod co-opted them to spy on the child and report back, and they were happy to oblige. Luckily, an angel intervened and warned them not to. Small wonder, perhaps, that though the kings became patron saints of trouble-on-the-road from the 12th century they were not all that popular, because they were not that lucky. Their feast-day, July 23rd, seems to have been usurped in modern calendars by St Apollinaris, who cures gout and the French pox.

It was St Christopher who actually kept travellers safe, and it is his image that still swings beside the rear-view-mirror rosaries and fluffy dice; whereas the kings come into play when the tyre is already flat, the speed cop already spotted, or the fine-notice glued to the windscreen by several days of rain.

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Their names and kingdoms were fairly obscure. For the sake of a good story, though, they had to have both.

In fact, being kings, they brought a good deal more. In the Spanish-speaking world, by long tradition, they are the Father Christmas figures, the bringers of unlimited money and sweets. The high-crowned travellers of modern Christmas cards plod across the dunes unburdened and unescorted; but medieval people knew that when kings travelled, ever on the move between their palaces as sport, work or blocked drains dictated, they took their chattels, treasure, beds, dogs and all their servants with them.

Some painters hinted at this enormous retinue, hustling and holding back horses at the edges of the scene; some donors had themselves put in it, as grooms or falcon-trainers. There were so many hangers-on, said John of Hildesheim, that they could not get lodgings in Jerusalem and had to camp outside, looking like a besieging army. Disgusted, the kings threw it down a well, whereupon it burst into flames; they somehow fished it out, took it home and worshipped it. The nature of the gifts, though, was less important than the fact that the kings represented the whole Gentile world coming to pay homage.

Traditionally one of them, usually Balthazar, was swarthy, darkening over the centuries until Hieronymous Bosch makes him black as coal, his skin contrasted with robes of gleaming white damask.

How to choose a Christmas tree: A complete guide from real to artificial

By then he was assumed to be a king of Ethiopia; the darker he got, the farther south he drifted. He was usually calm, silent and in the background, as if no painter of the medieval or early modern age could imagine a negro who was not a servant. The kings were also all the ages of man, respectively 20, 40 and The oldest, with long snowy hair and beard, struggling to kneel to give his present first, was usually taken to be Melchior; Gaspar was the young blade, rosy-cheeked and beardless and, just occasionally, oriental. Together, then, the kings added up to Everyman; and as such they became a triune symbol of human striving, hope and folly.

Over the featureless desert, over the centuries, they have taken on the characters of politicians, bankers, sunglass-sporting sheikhs, officers of OPEC and rock stars. They have carried election pledges, Turkish delight, overdue library books and barrels of oil.


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At times of austerity the gifts have become aluminium, potpourri and baby oil. The light they see in the sky, big as the sun, has become a digital stock-price display for gold, frankincense and myrrh , the neon sign of the Ramada Bethlehem five stars and, of course, a UFO. And they have got lost, continually; despite the star, they often get their maps out, scratching at their crowned heads and longing, now, for satnav. It is therefore easy to see the kings as an example—perhaps the prototype—of the three hapless travellers, who crop up everywhere once you start to look:. Three wise men of Gotham Went to sea in a bowl; If the bowl had been stronger, My tale had been longer.

This is Gotham in Nottinghamshire, not New York; but it could be either. Wynken, Blynken and Nod sail out in a wooden shoe, evidently unseaworthy, to catch the herring-fish stars and to fall asleep. Jerome K. There was also, in the Middle Ages, another wandering-kings story in which the three monarchs, out hunting frivolously, came upon their own bodies in three graves, respectively just-dead, decayed and reduced to bones. A favourite imago mortis was to show the kings, splendidly clad and with hawks still on their wrists, holding their noses as they gazed in horror. The original three kings, it could be argued, contemplated their own deaths in the offering of myrrh; and also confronted them, as all humans do, by setting out at all.

For all beginnings are a type of birth, all lives are journeys part mapped, part unknown, and all journeys end, at least in the world of the here and now.

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The kings were so neatly arranged, by races and ages, that some chroniclers maintained they were brothers, not strangers. Often, Christmas Trees are grown on soil that doesn't support other crops. See what the experts say about Real Christmas Trees. Real Christmas Trees are grown on farms just like any other agricultural crop. To ensure a constant supply, Christmas Tree growers plant one to three new seedlings for every tree they harvest. On the other hand, artificial trees are a petroleum-based product manufactured primarily in Chinese factories.

The average family uses an artificial tree for only six to nine years before throwing it away, where it will remain in a landfill for centuries after disposal.

THE THREE WISE MEN'S DAY PARADE

The hardest part of the process is getting it onto the trailer without causing too much damage — a painstaking task that takes a good two hours to complete. Then, each branch is carefully folded down and tied to the trunk so the tree can be transported into the city.


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Is decorating a big tree just the same as doing your tree at home? You have to take account of the shape of the tree, just like you would at home. The first step is to install the fairy lights, wrapping them around each branch of the tree. Next, you add the other decorations. The difference with a big tree, though, is that you have a tree climber 30 metres in the air, talking to someone on the ground using a walkie-talkie or a mobile phone.

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