On Sunday afternoon, the Three Kings Parade went through the center of Prague, commemorating the end of Christmas and drawing attention to the annual charity collection. As portrayed in the scenes of the birth of Jesus, three camel riders, dressed as the Three Kings, led the procession.
Accompanied by hundreds of people, the Three Kings crossed the Charles Bridge to the Old Town Square, where they gave their gifts to the baby Jesus at a live nativity scene. The classic Czech Christmas Mass written by Jakub Jan Ryba followed.
Every year, the Three Kings Collection helps socially disadvantaged people.
Before the procession started, Cardinal Dominik Duka had blessed the carolers in St. Thomas Church.
“The Three Kings Day (Epiphany) is an older feast than the birth of Jesus,” Duka said.
The Cardinal added that, like the birth of Christ, it is important to spread the message to other nations, and that the feast originates in Spain. The Augustinian Order, under which the Church of St. Thomas stems from, is of Spanish origin as well.
Czech Christmas Mass by Prague Philharmonic Children´s Choir (2016)
The cardinal thanked the Order, as well as charity, for organizing the annual collection.
Later in the Old Town Square, Duka said that, according to the renaissance astronomer Johannes Kepler, the star that should have brought the Three Kings to Bethlehem could not be a comet, simply because a comet usually marks a disaster.
According to Kepler’s hypothesis, it was rather a conjunction of Jupiter with Saturn, which likely corresponds to the actual historical record.
Duka also mentioned other historical sources that were to announce the coming of Christ.
“The birth of Jesus Christ is not a fairy tale, but a reality that has changed the world,” Duka said.
After the Cardinal’s speech, people in the crowded Old Town Square listened to Ryba’s Christmas Mass. It was played by St Jacobi Camerata orchestra and organist Vladimír Roubal, and the lyrics were sung by National Theater soloists and choirs from Prague, Rakovník, and Karlovy Vary.