20 + C + M + K + 23
If you have been in the southern sections of Germany for any length of time, you are likely to have seen this notation written in the doorways of many homes or other buildings. What does it mean?
January 6th is 3 King’s Day and in many of the traditionally Catholic parts of Germany, children in groups of 3 and dressed as the 3 Kings are out collecting donations for their parishes or charities by chalking doorways with the blessing notation “ 20 + C + M + K + 23”.
Depending on your tradition, the letters can either represent the names of the 3 Magi who visited the Holy Family in Bethlehem, Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar, or it can be the abbreviation for the Latin phrase “Christus mansionem benedicat” which means “May Christ bless this house”. I have also seen an asterisk (star) used in place of the plus sign, but the plus sign is more commonly used.
The “ 20” and “23” indicate the year the home or business was blessed. Last year the blessing was written as 20+C+M+B+22. The final digits show which year the blessing was bestowed. It is not uncommon to see blessings from multiple years lining a doorway.