Today, on January 6th, the Western church commemorates the Epiphany, or the Adoration of the Magi. The Magi are also known as the Three Wise Men, or the Holy Three Kings of the East. They are said to be foreigners, coming from the East, and finding baby Jesus after following the star.
Through the years, artists have depicted this scene in many different ways, and the appearance of the three foreigners has changed with different trends in christian iconography, but usually we end up with three men, dressed in beautiful clothes, bringing each a gift to the newborn child: Gold, frankincense and myrrh.
The painting I want to show you, is an early work by Leonardo da Vinci. It was left unfinished, because Leonardo had to leave for Milan. It is oil on wood, and we see the virgin with her child in the middle, and one of the Magi kneeling to the right in front.
I have a reproduction of the painting on my living room wall, but the real thing can be seen in the Uffici Galleries in Florence, on of my favorite museums.
When I lived in France, I picked up the tradition of baking the Kings' Cake (Galette des Rois) on the day of the Epiphany.
This delicious treat is made from buttery pastry dough, with an almond cream filling. Inside it, I hide a blanched almond, and the one who gets it in his/her piece is named King (or Queen) for the day. (In France they have special porcelain figurines to put in the cake. Scary for the teeth, though...
And, of course, the three Wise Men are moved in close to the stable in our miniature Nativity scene in the bay window.