Q: Who were the three Wisemen who gave the first Christmas presents?
A: The Story of the Wisemen is found in Matthew 2:1-12. Notice that the Bible really doesn’t tell us how many there really were, only that they brought three different gifts—gold, frankincense, and myrrh. It was a later Christian tradition that settled on three.
Who were they?–we really don’t know. The scriptures identify them simply as ‘magi’.
However, hundreds of years later a number of different traditions rose up about the Wisemen, where they came from and even what their names were. The Eastern churches had different names and traditions than the Western churches. None of the traditions can be traced back before 300 AD.
They were identified as ‘magi’, so all sorts of traditions have risen up about their possible Babylonian, Persian, or Parthenian origins. By the Middle ages in the West they came to be known by the names of: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar–and identified as kings from the three known continents: Europe, Asia, and Africa. A Cathedral in Germany even claims to be the final resting place for the Wisemen– Shrine of the Three Kings at Cologne Cathedral. However, the origin and disposition of the relics can only be traced back to 344 AD.