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Magical Magi: 5 Great Books about the Three Kings

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For many households, the preparation for Christmas can feel like an enormous build-up for a single day. There’s just one day to cook all the food, open all the presents, attend religious services and visit friends and families. However, for many countries around the world, the different elements of Christmas celebrations are spread across a number of days and weeks. In many European countries, Santa Claus or rather St. Nicolas distributes presents on his feast day, December 6th. On the 13th of December, people in many countries mark the Feast of St. Lucy by wearing a wreath of candles and singing carols. One of the most important days in this season, however, is the 6th of January, which marks the Feast of the Epiphany. This day traditionally marks the arrival of the the kings, or magi, to worship the child Jesus, and to give him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. There are many traditions surrounding this day, from the blessing of holy water, to making of a special almond cake called galette des rois

If you would like to find out more about these traditions you can read about them in this article, which focuses on the tradition of celebrating Women’s Christmas on this day: A Little History of Women's Christmas: An Irish Festive Tradition.

The story of the Magi is an important and beloved part of the Nativity narrative. It features in some of the most popular carols and artwork around Christmas. If you’re looking to introduce your child to this part of the story, and the important faith lessons it teaches, then here are five books for you to share as a family, to reflect on the season of gift-giving. 

We Three Kings

Spirin’s stunning book is simple in concept and sumptuous in execution, by setting the lyrics of the famous carol 'We Three Kings' to extraordinary artwork. With lush jewel tones and intricate detail, which is reminiscent of a medieval manuscript, kids will be able to read, or sing, along while getting swept up with the camels, and elephants, horses and kings all making their way towards Bethlehem.

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The Three Wise Men

If you’re looking for the story in a little bit more detail, Loek Koopman gives us a fleshed out version of the tale. His soft pastel illustrations give a sense of hushed wonder to the story, ideal for the Christmas season. It’s a sweet and simple version but one which really gets the sense of humility and joy that is so integral to the story.

The Third Gift

For a different perspective on the story, and one which might help your child place themselves in the world of Bethlehem 2000 years ago, Linda Sue Parker has written The Third Gift. Here a young boy, learning his father’s craft, comes upon three richly dressed men looking to buy gifts for a baby. It’s a beautiful book, which highlights the role we can all play in using our talents, as well as being an informative look at the historical reality behind the gift of myrrh, something that many of us may not have thought about before.

The Last Straw

Now for a humorous but meaningful take on the story, The Last Straw is told from the perspective of the curmudgeonly old camel Hoshmakaka. He is very reluctant at first, complaining and griping, but he soon comes to understand the importance of his task. The rich, detailed illustrations of the book complement this lively and entertaining tale.

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The Gift of the Magi

Our final entry on this list is a Christmas classic. O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi is a much beloved story of an impoverished husband and wife struggling to provide gifts for each other. It shows how we can incorporate the story and message of the Magi into our lives. This edition includes gorgeous illustrations by P.J. Lynch, who has become a staple of many Christmas classics.

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I love to read, cook, and travel. My favourite books are anything Jane Austen or Georgette Heyer, but I also love non-fiction history and self-help.

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