Who are the Magi? Why does O Henry compare his story "The Gift of the Magi" to them ?

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Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Magi were the wise kings who visit newborn Jesus and bestow upon him gifts of Frankincense, myrrh, and gold.  According to the Book of Matthew in the Bible, the magi follow the star from the East to Jerusalem, looking for the one born to be the king of the Jews.  When King Herod hears of their arrival, he wants them to find out more about the prophecied Christ.  When the magi finally reach their destination in Bethlehem, they see Jesus with Mary and worship him, bestowing their gifts to the newborn king.  The magi, full of love for Jesus, do not return to report back to Herod, but rather go home a different way.

"The Gift of the Magi" as a title suggests story about a gift given from the heart, free of unselfish desires or motives.  Like the magi in the Bible, Delia and Jim Young both offer gifts to each other in complete sincerity and out of love.