Feast of the Epiphany

By: Erin McGeever

Sunday, January 7, 2024, is the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord, one of the oldest of all Christian feasts. It is also known as Three Kings’ Day. It commemorates the visit of the Magi to the Christ Child.

Marking our doorways or front porch steps with blessed chalk is a centuries-old European Epiphany custom and a visible way to dedicate our homes and the New Year to God. The inscription this year is:

20 + C + M + B + 24

“20” and “24” stand for the new year (2024), of course. The plus signs represent the Cross. CMB are the first initials of the traditional names given to the Magi — Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar. They also abbreviate the Latin Christus mansionem benedicat, or “May Christ bless the house.”

To mark your home, you will need two things: Chalk that has been blessed and a prayer. There is no formal blessing of chalk given in Catholic Household Prayers and Blessings, but something suitable can be found.

The U.S. Bishops provide the following prayer service without reference to the chalking: 

USCCB Blessing of Home and Household for Epiphany