Around January 6, the symbol +C+M+B+ with two numbers before and two numbers after (for example, 20+C+M+B+19) is sometimes seen written in chalk above the doorway of Christian homes. The letters are the initials of the traditional names of the Three Magi: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar. These letters also abbreviate the Latin phrase Christus mansionem benedicat, “May Christ bless the house.” The beginning and ending numbers are the year, 2019 in the example above. The crosses represent Christ.
Making a door lentil sign: The symbols are now used throughout the world and usually represent a traditional Epiphany prayer and blessing. Christian family can make a door lentil from cardboard or from a flat board. Cardboard can be purchased in any color. Likewise, wood can be painted to match the room color. The cardboard or wooden board can be hung above the front door, or the most commonly family-used door, by a hook. Numbers and letters can be made with a marker in almost any preferred color.
A blessing for the marking of doorways:12
- Leader: Peace be with this house and with all who live here.
Response (All): And peace be with all who enter here.
- Leader: During these days of the Christmas season, we keep this Feast of Epiphany, celebrating the manifestation of Christ to the Magi, and thereby to the whole world. Today, Christ is manifest to us! Today this home is a holy place because of the presence of Christ here.
- Leader: This is the word of the Lord to you. Read Matthew 2:1-12.
Response (All): Thanks be to God!
- Leader: O God, Lord of all that exists, you revealed your only-begotten Son to every nation by the guidance of a star. Bless this house and all who inhabit it. Fill each of us with the light of Christ, that our concern for others may reflect your love. We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Response (All): Amen