Following the birth of Jesus, a group of eastern wise men, sometimes called magi, spotted a new star in the sky. They recognized it as signaling the birth of the Messiah (meh-SY-ah), the long-anticipated savior king promised to the Jewish people.
The magi traveled from the east to worship this new king, following the star, and found the baby Jesus. They bowed down before Him and worshiped Him, presenting kingly gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
The story of the magi appears in the New Testament Gospel of Matthew, but does not specify a number of Magi. The traditional belief in three Magi, to correspond with the three gifts, began in the Medieval period.