Wednesday, January 6, 2016

An interpretation of La Befana

The Feast of the Epiphany, celebrated January 6th with a national holiday in Italy as well as Ticino, and the tradition of La Befana are a big part of Christmas celebrations. Epiphany commemorates the 12th day of Christmas when the three Wise Men arrived at the manger bearing gifts for Baby Jesus.

La Befana has been an Italian tradition since the XIII century and comes from Christian legend rather than popular culture. It is the tale of a witch known as La Befana who arrives on her broomstick during the night of January 5 and fills the stockings with toys and sweets for the good children and lumps of coal for the bad ones.

According to the legend, the night before the Wise Men arrived at the manger they stopped at the shack of an old woman to ask directions. They invited her to come along but she replied that she was too busy. Then a shepherd asked her to join him but again she refused. Later that night, she saw a great light in the sky and decided to join the Wise Men and the shepherd bearing gifts that had belonged to her child who had died.

She got lost and never found the manger.

Now La Befana flies around on her broomstick each year on the 11th night, bringing gifts to children in hopes that she might find the Baby Jesus. Children hang their stockings on the evening of January 5 awaiting the visit of La Befana.

So what did La Befana bring you this year? Sweeties or Coal?

La Befana vien di notte
con le scarpe tutte rotte
col vestito alla romana:
Viva viva la Befana!
La befana vien di notte
con le scarpe tutte rotte
porta un sacco pien di doni
da regalare ai bimbi buoni
La befana vien di notte
con le scarpe tutte rotte
viene e bussa alla tua porta
sai tu dirmi che ti porta?

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