Warsaw, Poland, Jan 9, 2023 / 11:00 am (CNA).
Three Kings parades went down the streets of 800 Polish towns and cities Jan. 6 for the feast of the Epiphany, with estimates of some 1.5 million people taking part in what is believed to be the largest street Nativity pageant in the world. This year, carols were sung not only in Polish but also in Ukrainian.
“We wish you and your homeland a peace stronger than war. We wish you and your homeland hope that is stronger than death. Glory to Ukraine,” Ukrainian Auxiliary Bishop Michał Janocha of Warsaw said to a large gathering of Ukrainian mothers with their children in Warsaw.
Jan. 6 is the feast of the Epiphany, which is commonly referred to as Three Kings Day, or the day of the three Magi. In Poland, it is a day off. In many cities across the country, colorful processions are held to commemorate the event, with participants remembering the journey of the three Wise Men who arrived in Bethlehem to pay homage to the newborn Jesus.
After his Angelus prayer on Jan. 6 at the Vatican, Pope Francis greeted all participants of the Three Kings Parade, saying: “I also extend my thoughts to the ‘Parade of the Three Kings’ taking place in so many towns and villages in Poland today.”
The motto of this year’s Three Kings Parade was “Let us follow the star.” According to the organizers: “The star prompted the Wise Men from the East to set out on their journey. Each of us needs good guides to point us in the right direction on the way to Christ.”
“This year, 753 Three Kings parades were reported in Poland and a dozen or so in Germany, the U.K., France, Cameroon, Rwanda, and Zambia,” said Piotr Giertych, chairman of the board of the Three Kings Parade Foundation. The parade gathers nearly 2 million people every year, he said, “1 million on the streets and another million in front of their TV sets.”
Special words of appreciation and gratitude were addressed to the participants and organizers of the parades by Polish President Andrzej Duda. He stressed that these events contribute to reviving and popularizing Polish Nativity and carol traditions in the 21st century and thus strengthen the identity and family ties of those who boldly manifest their Christian faith in the streets and squares of Polish cities.
The event was accompanied by a fundraiser for a vocational school in Nairobi, Kenya, located next to the world’s largest slum.
The Three Kings Parade is currently one of the largest street Christmas pageants in the world. In 2022, it drew as many as 1.2 million participants in 668 towns and cities across Poland and on four continents. Colorful processions marched down the streets in many countries, including Ecuador, the United States, Rwanda, Cameroon, Zambia, and Chad.