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Despite the Pandemic, There Were Mini Processions of the Three Kings in Poland

SKEP / 06.01.2021
© Maciej Kursa_Orszak Trzech Króli
© Maciej Kursa_Orszak Trzech Króli

Throughout Poland, there 2,500 mini-processions of the Three Kings to celebrate the feast of Epiphany. It is the largest street nativity play in the world. Last year, 1,300,000 Poles took part in these processions. As in previous years, Pope Francis greeted the participants of the processions in Poland this year.


The pandemic has now made it necessary to change the event’s configuration – mainly mini-processions of a few people were organized, and some of the events moved to the Internet.

The organizers also proposed several other ways of celebrating Epiphany: family processions, caroling together in churches, and also a Christmas carol challenge on the social media.

The slogan of this year’s procession of the Three Kings is “Let Us Give Thanks to the Lord” – the title of Song XIII by Jan Kochanowski, one of the most important Polish poets of the Renaissance.

The chairman of the Board of the Three Kings Foundation, Piotr Giertych, said that the procession’s slogan expresses the thanks for the fact that, 10 years ago, January 6th once again became a holiday in Poland, as it is in many European countries. “We also have something to thank for after this difficult year. 2020 was a difficult year for all of us, but also it was also full of ideas, full of hope, and we precisely hope that the Procession of the Three Kings is like a star shining in the dark, like the birth of Christ,” added Piotr Giertych.

© Maciej Kursa_Orszak Trzech Króli

Due to the epidemic, the mini processions were symbolic. In some places, the three kings went on horseback from parish to parish. In others, car parades were organized. In Warsaw, the procession, which attracted 90,000 people last year, was reduced to 5 people to comply with the sanitary restrictions.

“This year, the processions will animate the parishes even more. Most of the mini processions were organized after the Holy Masses, in the form of caroling and a march in groups of 5 people, in accordance with the sanitary requirements,” emphasized Fr. Paweł Rytel-Andrianik, director of the Office for Foreign Communication of the Polish Bishops’ Conference.

Last year, colorful processions with the participation of multigenerational families were organized in 900 towns throughout Poland. There were also processions on other continents: in the Americas, Asia, and Africa.

This year, the organizers of the mini processions received 700 thousand crowns, 350 thousand newsletters, and 300 thousand songbooks along with the same number of Three Kings stickers.

Another proposal for the celebration of January 6th is the “Christmas carol challenge.” The organizers encourage you to post a video of your family singing of one of the selected Christmas carols or pastorals on the network by February 2. Then, other people should be chosen to participate in the challenge.

The first public Cortege of the Three Kings was organized in Poland in 2009; it was created as a continuation of the nativity play in one of Warsaw’s schools. The ceremonial procession derives from the native tradition of nativity-plays and caroling, but it is also modeled on the parades organized in Spain or Mexico.

The Polish procession consists in walking through the streets of towns and villages behind the Star of Bethlehem. The Three Kings lead the participants to the Stable, where all bow down before Jesus and the Holy Family. On the way, Christmas carols are sung, all participants receive a booklet of Christmas carols and colorful paper crowns.

The number of organized processions and participants is systematically growing. The fact that January 6th became a holiday in 2011 has helped. Since 2012, the processions have been supported by the Polish presidents, starting with President Bronisław Komorowski, and President Andrzej Duda and his wife have participated in processions in various places in Poland.

In 12 years, the procession has developed so much in Poland that currently over a million people participate every year. The organizers of the procession hope that a similar tradition will also begin in other countries.

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2024-07-19 23:15:14