Thursday, January 6, 2011

The witch did not clean my house!

In Italian folklore, Befana is an old woman who delivers gifts to children throughout Italy on Epiphany Eve (the night of January 5) in a similar way to Santa Claus. This Italian gift-giving spirit may also be known as Saint Befana, La Vecchia (the Old Woman), La Strega (the Witch), and another opportunity for parents to put their hands in their pockets for festive merchandise.

In popular folklore, Befana visits all the children of Italy on the eve of the Feast of the Epiphany to fill their socks with candy and presents if they are good or a lump of coal or dark candy if they are bad. Our children were lucky enough to receive Befana with a small stocking of Kinder chocolates and a book each. We were also pleasantly surprised when the lovely Signora across our hall came bearing gifts of dolls and blocks. Her generosity was overwhelming, we are lucky enough to have the lovely culinary smells that come from her apartment everyday, gifts are not expected. (Perhaps it was a bribery to keep the noise down?)

Being a good housekeeper, many say Befana will sweep the floor before she leaves. The child's family typically leaves a small glass of wine and a plate with a few morsels of food, often regional or local, for the Befana. I did not leave an offering of food, is that why the witch did not clean my house? Children are left with gifts, I am left with dust... maybe next year?

1 comment:

  1. Your posts and travel pictures are just wonderful...enjoy every minute x