Epiphany 2021: Frankincense And Myrrh Are Out, Gold And Crypto Are In
Frankincense and myrrh were valuable commodities two thousand years ago. Today the Magi would likely replace the two botanicals with one or more types of our newest commodity: cryptocurrency.
January 6th is the traditional Christian celebration of the Epiphany, or Three Kings Day, when the Bible says Magi presented gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the infant Jesus and his family.
For those who might be wondering, frankincense and myrrh are produced from trees and shrubs in the Boswellia and Commiphora family, which are native to the lands out of which the Magi likely traveled, the Arabian and Northeast African peninsulas. They were much needed and valuable plant-based commodities at the time of Jesus’ birth.
Interestingly, it is not known how many Magi there actually were, nor their exact origins; but a single Bible passage (Matt 2:11) does specify three gifts that were presented from the Magi’s collective treasure: gold, frankincense and myrrh. The young family that was the object of the Magi’s largesse probably put the gifts to good use when they fled to Egypt, where it is said they stayed for three years or more, in effect, as political refugees.
Gold’s use as currency and a store of value hasn’t changed much over the past two millennia, and any family hiding from political persecution in a hostile foreign land, even today, would be happy to have some gold at its disposal.
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But frankincense and myrrh, which were highly valued back then as medicines, religious ritual components, and even as embalming ingredients, have now been pretty much relegated solely to alternative medicinal uses. They might be a little help to a modern day family, but not much.
What would a group of wise men, scholars, royals, or whomever the Magi may have actually been, give to a young couple with a newborn baby in 2021?
If one wishes to leave something to a young family of meager means with whom one has only a passing acquaintance, a bit of gold would certainly go a long way. But knowing that same family will soon be traveling to parts unknown (they’d by necessity have to leave the near squalor-like conditions in which you found them) one might want to gift them something of value that could be used anywhere, without question, and “under the radar” if necessary, as currency to obtain food, shelter, and other necessities. Cryptocurrency fits the bill perfectly. Bitcoin, Ethereum, Tether, Litecoin, Ripple, etc., etc., take your pick. any or all will do.
In 2021 a family of three, with nothing but a bit of gold and some cryptocurrency gifted to them by a mysterious group of distinguished migrant benefactors, could set off to a new country, hostile or friendly, and survive quite well, enabling them to eventually fulfill the true purpose of their lives.