Have you ever noticed a mysterious series of letters and numbers which looked like a math equation, inscribed in chalk over a doorway (or at your church, or at the home of a friend) and wondered “What is that?” But you didn’t ask. After leaving, you began to wonder what the chalked letters and number combination was all about. What was it?

It’s called “Chalking the Door.” Some “chalk the door” (literally write on or above the entrance of their home in chalk) with a particular inscription of specific numbers/letters which changes each year. This year, the inscription is: 20 + C + M + B + 22. Here’s a quick ‘translation’.

The letters “C, M, B” can represent
1. The initials of the Magi (Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar) who were reported to visit the baby Jesus on January 6th.
2. An abbreviation of the Latin phrase, Christus mansionem benedicat which means “May Christ bless this house.”

The “plus” “+” signs are said to represent
– the Cross of Jesus

The “numbers”
– The “20” at the beginning and the “22” at the end represent this current year: 20 (2000) plus 22 (+ 2022). As the numbers change every year, next year the inscription would be “20 + C + M + B + 23” (2023).

“Chalking of the door” is a centuries-old ritual throughout many parts of the world and can be a wonderful family activity and spiritual practice, invoking the Creator’s blessing and protection on all who live/work/visit the home.

In some respect, it is similar to what Jewish people have done for centuries when they attach a mezuzah to the front door/doorpost in response to a mitzvah (a commandment) believing in protection for those who pass through the door.

When to do the “chalking of the door”?
– Some do it on New Year’s Day.
– Some do it on Twelfth Night.
– Some do it on a day of their own choosing between New Year’s Day and Epiphany.
– Some do it on Epiphany (January 6th). After the storming of the Capital in Washington, D.C. on January 6th, this day last year, today seems appropriate.
– However, the actual date of the “Chalking of the Door” isn’t the important thing. Being intentional, making the time to invite and welcome the Creator’s presence and protection, is.

How does the Chalking of the Door ritual unfold?
– First, you’ll need a chalk and a board (even cardboard would do).
– Write the inscription on the board.
– Let others in the home know about it so they can be there (we’re in a pandemic so wearing a mask, social distancing, and only those who share the home with you, this year, should be present).
– Finally, you’ll need a hammer and nails/tacks to put the inscription on/over the door

The ritual (writing the inscription on/above the door and offering a short prayer) can be done by one person who lives in the home; it can be shared by people living in the home; and when there is no pandemic concern, an ordained person can be invited to preside at the ritual. There really is no formal way of “chalking the door.” It’s a custom, a ritual, which we make our own. So – “Do your own thing.”

Chalking of the Door Prayer
– It can be informal (use your own words)
– It can be semi-formal (something similar to the following)
“Holy One, Creator, God, (I/we) ask your blessing on this entrance and home and upon all who live here (work / visit here). May they may be blessed in ways that will be nourishing to their body, mind and spirit. May peace dwell in this home. May laughter and joy be experienced. May kindness, patience, thoughtfulness, and respect be present in conversations and actions. And may All That Is Good be present in the waking and sleeping of all who dwell herein. Amen
– It can be formal, based on an ancient Celtic prayer (below):
God who is Three, God who is One, give blessing to the house that is here. Bless it from roof to floor, from wall to wall, from end to end. May your Spirit alone dwell within these walls to bring joy and laughter. We call upon the Sacred Three to save, to shield and surround this home. The circle of God around it. The peace of Christ within it. The life of the Spirit above it this day and night and every night. May the Triune God be the protector of this place. Peace be here in the name of the God of love. Welcome be here in the name of the Christ of peace. Joy be here in the name of the Spirit of life. God who is one. God who is three, bring light for the day and rest for the night. We call upon the Sacred Three to welcome, guide and nurture all who enter here; the Circle of God around friend and stranger; the Peace of Christ within it; the life of the Spirit above all who stand at the door this day, this night and evermore. Amen.” <Adaptation of Celtic prayer by Christine Sine, used with permission):


May the “Chalking of the Door” be a blessing to all who read it on a front door and a blessing to all who decide to “chalk the door” this year.

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© June Maffin
www.soulistry.com www.soulistry.com/blog www.facebook.com/groups/soulistrychurchyear

Photo: © Dmitry Zvolskiy (used by permission Pexels.com)
Graphics on door: Thanks to WaterMark Pro app