Today is the Feast of the Epiphany, the day when Christian tradition says that a group of men from the East came to Bethlehem bearing gifts for a child who’s birth they had read in the stars. There are many legends and stories that have built up around these men which I recounted in a post back in 2013: One Fine Day I Met Upon Their Way.
One of the stories that I never tire of is the Italian legend of La Befana who’s visit was celebrated last evening in Italy and many Italian communities around the world. I was rather disturbed when I saw that the Italian Community in Ottawa referred to her as “the Witch of Christmas”. As I have said countless times in the past La Befana is not a witch but simply an older peasant woman who did indeed meet the Three Kings as they went upon their way. As with all legends there are many variations of her story and of the several I’ve told over the past eight years I think the one I recounted on our last Epiphany in Italy is my favourite: Viva La Befana! La Befana.
La Befana vien di notte
Con le scarpe tutte rotte
Col vestito alla romana
Viva, Viva La Befana!
La Befana comes by night
With her shoes old and broken
She comes dressed in the Roman way
Long life to the Befana!
And again my wish for all my friends in Italy and any place where La Befana has visited is that she continues to do so. That for that one night of the year she is allowed into homes and for that brief time the children of the world truly become hers.
On this day in 1616: English Restoration – The Fifth Monarchists unsuccessfully attempt to seize control of London, England.