6 Jan
2015

WHERE’S MY PRESENT, LA BEFANA?

OK, so I’m not in Italy this year for the Epiphany (that would be today, January 6, by the way), and I’m not a child.  But if I were, I would be expecting something fun and exciting, because I think I’ve been a really good girl.

imagesJanuary 6 marks the end of the Christmas season for Italians and for their little bambine is the day good behavior is rewarded with presents left by La Befana. According to Italian legend, the Three Wise Men asked an old woman—famous for giving good directions—the way to Bethlehem and, if she would like to come along, that would be just fine with them.  La Befana said, no, she didn’t think so, and then changed her mind and set out on her own. But alas! …her GPS let her down, and in spite of flying around in circles forever and ever, she was too late.

She never did find the Christ child and has been searching ever since. So now as a way of making up for her lost chance, she hops back on her broom and delivers toys and goodies to all the sleeping children of Italy on the eve of the Epiphany.

What she does the rest of the year has been a matter of speculation for some time in Italy. Some say she directs traffic at Piazza Venezia in Rome, others that she mans a gondola on the Venetian canals, but I have a friend who swears she has been employed by the Italian government to sweep away the mess in Parliament which takes up all her time every day of the year— except for one.

 

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