Warsaw, Poland, January 6, 2022 / 1:00 PM
The Three Kings parades took place on Thursday in more than 600 locations across Poland.
The annual processions, in which the actors stage the magi who traveled to Bethlehem to see the newborn baby Jesus, took place on January 6, the Solemnity of the Epiphany.
Organizers believe the annual parade, known in Polish as Orszak Trzech Króli, is generally the largest street nursery in the world.
The motto of this year’s parades was “Today is a Happy Day”. Processions were held in the capital, Warsaw, and 667 other Polish cities.
Similar parades were held in Ukraine, Austria, France, England and even in African countries.
Parades were reported at around 200 more locations than in 2021, when events were scaled down due to COVID-19. But the total of 668 sites was lower than before the pandemic started in 2020, when processions took place in 820 locations.
According to the website of the Foundation of the Three Kings Parades, the first Three Kings street parade took place in Poland in 2009. It was created as a continuation of the Nativity play in one of the schools in Warsaw.
The ceremonial procession stems from the indigenous tradition of nativity scenes and Christmas carols, but it is also inspired by parades held in Spain and Mexico.
The Polish procession consists of walking through the streets of towns and villages behind the Star of Bethlehem. The Three Kings lead the participants to the stable, where all bow down to Jesus and the Holy Family.
Along the way, Christmas carols are sung, and all participants receive a booklet of Christmas carols and colorful paper wreaths.
Thanks to the fact that the feast of the Epiphany became a public holiday in 2011, the number of parades has continued to grow.
Three Kings Parades Foundation President Piotr Giertych described the processions as a form of street evangelism.
“The wise men of the East, studying nature, the cosmos, seeking the truth, have found the Truth in the little Child,” he said.
He explained that funds raised at this year’s event would support poor students in Nairobi, Kenya.
As in previous years, Pope Francis greeted the participants in the processions in Poland on Thursday.
In his Angelus address at the Vatican on January 6, he declared: “I encourage evangelistic initiatives which flow from the traditions of the Epiphany and which, due to the current situation, use various means of communication. I remember in particular the “Procession of the Three Kings” which takes place in Poland.