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POLISH CHRISTMAS CUSTOM

BETWEEN CHRISTMAS AND JANUARY 6 (THE OFFICIAL FEAST DAY OF THE
WISEMEN), POLISH PEOPLE, IN ORDER TO CELEBRATE THE VISITION OF THE
WISEMEN TO CHRIST, CHALK THE FRONT DOORS OF THEIR HOMES WITH THE
LETTERS K, M, AND B. THESE INITIALS SIGNIFY THE NAMES OF THE MAGI:
KASPAR, MELCHIOR, AND BALTHASAR. THE INITIALS ARE ALSO A SIGN OF THE
POLISH FAMILY'S WELCOMING ANY VISITORS WHO WISH TO STOP IN DURING THE
THE CHRISTMAS SEASON. ALSO BETWEEN CHRISTMAS AND JAN. 6, FIVE OR SIX
MEN DRESS UP IN WISEMAN COSTUMES AND PARADE DOWN THE STREETS. THEY
USUALLY CARRY THE HEAD OF A BEAR CARVED OUT OF WOOD. THIS HEAD IS
MOUNTED ON A LONG STICK AND HELD UP BY ONE OF THE MEN. THE LOWER
CHIN OF THE BEAR HEAD IS MOVABLE AND CONTROLLED BY PULLING A STRING.
THE MOVEMENT OF THE LOWER CHIN CAUSES A CLAPPING SOUND WHICH ATTRACTS
THE ATTENTION OF THE PEOPLE AND CHILDREN ON THE STREET. THESE
COSTUMED PARADERS GO FROM HOME TO HOME ALONG THEIR ROUTE COLLECTING
GROCERIES AND LIQUORS. THESE IMPROMPTU ACTORS DO THIS TO GET ALL
THE PEOPLE IN THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; WARREN

Keyword(s): EPIPHANY

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- January 1 New Year's
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- 39815
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- 39816
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- January 4
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- January 5
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- January 6 Twelfth Day Epiphany
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 26 Boxing Day St. Stephen's Day
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- F122
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 28 Holy Innocents
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- F122
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- F123
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 31 New Year's Eve

Date learned: 10-11-1969

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