... La Befana gave gifts to good and bad children in Italy
Italians love Christmas. Family, friends, food, tradition and folklore are very dear to our hearts. One of our folklore tales is of La Befana. She is believed to come on January 5th, the Eve of the Epiphany, which is celebrated on January 6th. We make cookies in the shape of stars or little frosted balls. A little glass of wine is also left out, but I firmly believe that it was really for my Grandpa, to help him get through what he must have felt was our nonsense.
As we believed in Santa Claus as children and were read "The Night Before Christmas", we were also told a tale of La Befana and I'll share it with you as best I remember it.
La Befana was an old woman who was always cleaning and baking and sweeping her home. The Maji stopped by her house on their journey to find the Christ Child, asked her for directions and if she would like to join them as they followed the Star to find Him. La Befana said that she was too busy sweeping and cleaning and said, "No, thanks". After the Maji left, she regretted not going with them, took her broom and went searching for the Newborn Child. She put cookies that she had baked in her tablecloth, tied it to the end of her broom, and searched and searched to no avail. She is said to leave little treasures for children that are good and black chocolate for bad children.
I personally liked Santa Claus better. He brought toys and dolls, was jolly and had reindeer. No wonder my Grandpa liked a little glass of wine put out at Christmas. Buon Natale and a Very Happy New Year!
January 4, 2013