We usually hear about frankincense and myrrh, mainly when talking about the three Wise Men from the East (specifically Gaspar and Baltasar) and the gifts they gave the baby Jesus to welcome him into the world.

Those three wise men carried gold, frankincense and myrrh in total, but although we hear it many times we do not always know what frankincense and myrrh are, and we only identify well the gold of Melchior.

What were those gifts? What could they represent?

What exactly are frankincense and myrrh

Frankincense and myrrh are resins (dried tree sap) that come from trees of the genus Boswellia (frankincense) and Commiphora (myrhh) common in Somalia. The way that people collect sap is similar to the way that people collect sap from the rubber tree or pine sap. Cutting the bark of the tree causes the sap to flow out of the cut. The sap used to create both frankincense and myrrh is produced slowly and allowed to dry on the tree. The hardened sap is collected and used as frankincense and myrrh.

The tradition of gifts or of giving us things at Christmas comes from there precisely, from those gifts that the Magi made to Jesus and that they also give to so many children every year. As it is related in the book of Matthew of the Bible: “ When they got home they saw the child with his mother Mary, they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh . ”

Incense and myrrh are most commonly used to create incense both in the time of the Three Wise Men and today. Incense can be mixed with things like spices, seeds, roots, etc. to create different and interesting aromas. Traditionally powdered incense is also burned with charcoal in a censer or on a small holder, which you may have seen more than once somewhere.

Frankincense and myrrh are as common today as they were in the past, and these gifts symbolized the wealth of the continents that Gaspar and Balthazar represent, which are Asia and Africa. This means that the Three Wise Men, believe it or not, wore the best they had to entertain the baby Jesus.

And you? Do you also receive nice gifts from the Magi? Would you like to receive gold, frankincense or myrrh this Christmas?

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