It must be artistic licence that enables nativity plays and many paintings to depict the Magi at the manger.

We are told that these skilled astronomers began their journey when a star signalled the birth of Jesus.

They would have needed to catch a lift from Santa with his super fast reindeer to arrive there 12 days later, the feast of the Epiphany.

It has been estimated that it would have taken two years for the Magi to arrive in Bethlehem, and surely Mary and Joseph would have departed from the stable as quickly as possible.

The Bible says that the Wise Men encountered Mary and her young child in a house (Joseph presumably being about his business) and the time lapse is indicated by the fact that Herod, after due consideration, ordered the slaughter of children up to the age of two. Of course, it does not really matter.

Some of the greatest Christmas paintings show the Magi somewhere in the picture, and who has not loved to see children solemnly present the baby with their gifts while trying not to trip over their dressing gowns or lose their gold paper crowns.


Overcombe, Weymouth