Friday, January 4, 2019

La Befana: Epiphany Witch

If you're keeping count, today is the 10th Day of Christmas. The 12th Day of Christmas will be January 6th also known as the Feast of the Epiphany (when the magi reached Bethlehem in case you're following that story.) That brings us to today's post about La Befana: known as the Christmas Witch in Italy.

According to legend, La Befana was an old woman who the magi (wise men) approached looking for directions to find the baby Jesus. She took them in and fed them and they liked her so much that they invited her to come with them on their journey. She declined because she had to clean her house (?!) but the next day regretted it and went out on her own to search for the baby Jesus. She wasn't able to find him, but every time she came upon a child she would give sweets and toys to the good ones and coal, onion, or garlic to the bad ones. (Now I know why I love garlic so much.) It parts of Italy she visits the children on the eve of Epiphany- January 5th. I'm not all too clear on why she is considered to be a witch, but I'm sure it's lost in translation. Maybe because to get everywhere she has to fly on a broom??

I'll be celebrating La Befana tomorrow by cooking the traditional sausage and broccoli dish that La Befana loves more than the cookies that Santa gets. If there is any left over, I'll leave her some. I also intend to drink Italian wine and give my husband some Italian candies- he's been pretty good. Of course one of my witch dolls will be the table centerpiece.

If you need to add La Befana to your traditions I have a few suggestions for you. Buy one on her feast day.

The Night of La Befana, Children's Book from Italian Children's Market
La Befana Art Doll from RavensMillArtDolls
La Befana Socks from bwet13
Set of La Befana Christmas Cards from LionOfBali
Kitchen Witch Doll from Epilekton
Kitchen Witch from Joyful Redo
La Befana Ornament from Italian Children's Market
It's interesting that there are several legends of old women on the Eve on Epiphany around Europe. If you're looking for a much darker witch check out the legend of Perchta in Austria and Germany. She rips out the guts of women with dirty houses. I wrote a little something about her back in 2015. Read Is Your House Clean?

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