As you probably know, it is Epiphany, and I am sure you probably also know the story of the Three Wise Men. But do you know the story of the Three Wise Women? No? I thought not. Read on for a tale of wonder, travel, and sensible bloody baby gifts.
The Three Wise Women
The Three Wise Women saw a new star appear in the night sky and, because they were very wise, knew that this heralded the birth of a new king.
However, the Wise Women decided they would wait until they were invited to see the baby: ‘If you have to follow a bloody star to find the baby, you’re probably not welcome.’ They were very wise indeed. No one wants uninvited visitors when they’ve just had a baby. Especially not ones with camels. Besides, following a star would mean walking only at night. Who’s doing that?
Having waited for an invitation, the Wise Women set out on their journey bearing gifts.
Wise Woman Number One – we’ll call her Beryl – came bearing a gift of clothing for the baby. (Old bed sheets, ties and tea towels. What do you mean, that’s not what people actually wore despite the depiction found in primary school productions of the Nativity?) But not all in newborn size, of course (they grow out of newborn tea towels so quickly).
Wise Woman Number Two – we’ll call her Cheryl – came bearing a gift of a moses basket for the baby. A manger didn’t sound very suitable or hygienic, and it almost certainly wouldn’t comply with European safety standards.
Wise Woman Number Three – we’ll call her Meryl – came bearing a gift of chocolates for Mary. Well, the baby hadn’t done any of the work here, had he?
Passing through Judea, the Wise Women were asked by King Herod for the exact time and location of the baby’s birth. The Wise Women refused to provide this information: it’s really not acceptable to make people’s birth announcements for them. Herod would have to wait until Mary announced it on facebook, like everybody else.
Finally, Beryl, Cheryl and Meryl arrived in Bethlehem to worship at the feet of…Mary. ‘Oh my god, you look amazing! Did it hurt?’
They made offerings of small talk. Beryl asked, ‘Does he sleep well?…Ever so quiet? Well, that’s good!’
Cheryl asked, ‘What are you calling him?…Jesus? That’s unusual, isn’t it? Don’t often see a Jesus. Is it a family name?…Told to you by an angel? Really? Wow.’
Meryl asked, ‘Who do you think he looks like, then? You or Joseph?’ Beryl stamped on her foot. ‘Ow! What?? Oh…right. Oops – sorry, Joseph!’
Cheryl muttered, ‘Awkward!’
Gifts delivered, the Three Wise Women prepared to depart, but not before politely asking Mary and Joseph if there was anything they needed. An offer they immediately regretted: ‘Safe passage to Egypt? Can we get that in Mothercare? We were thinking more along the lines of a lasagne to put in the freezer.’
There you have it: the lesser known story of the Three Wise Women. They came, they saw, they didn’t give a newborn baby myrrh.