It is at this time of year that I like to remind everyone not to despair or lament the passing of another holiday.
The Christmas season is not over until Ephinany, thus we are now in the heart of the Yuletide season that extends 12 days from Christmas Day until Jan. 6. In many parts of the world these 12 days are celebrated even more robustly than the singular date of Dec. 25.
In Spain thousands of people visit the harbors of places like Barcelona to witness the arrival of Three Kings sailing in on three ships on Three Kings Day on Jan. 6.
In many parts of Italy, an older woman, some say a witch, in fact, the Christmas Witch, is celebrated as she, too, arrives on Jan. 6. As with all folklore and tales, her legends vary from region to region, even shifting a bit depending on the religious leanings of those who are celebrating her arrival.
In a nutshell, her name is La Befana and her tale includes facts about how obsessively she swept up the inside of her home, the outside of her home, the gardens of her home and even the road leading to her home.
She was reclusive until she heard a child would be born to save humankind from sin. She sought the child but could not find it. Spirits or angels helped her seek the Miraculous Child from Dec. 25 to Jan. 6. La Befana wanted to tidy up the area where the Child slept with her broom. This would be her gift to the Child.
Being old she had great difficulty in traveling by foot for long distances as she searched, so the spirits or angels lifted her into the air and whisked her wherever she wanted to search. She has never found the Child. But she searches eternally, and along the way she has found a new mission to reward good-natured children with small rewards of fruit, cookies and other such goodies.
Some say she uses her broom to sweep off or spank naughty children, and some leave her goodies on the fireplace hearth so when she arrives, via the chimney, she is rewarded for her effort with food and some nice wine, beer or spirits.
To my way of thinking, I believe in all of them. St. Nick first arrives on Dec. 6, then he comes again on Dec. 24 or 25, then La Befana comes on Jan. 6.
It’s one fabulous, month-long celebration and party, and if invest in being good throughout the year, so shall I reap goodness during these most blessed of wondrous holiday events on the annual calendar.
And hey, I didn’t even mention anything about Santa Lucia. She usually arrives in Sicilian homes on Dec. 13 with a sumptuous feast. I’m all in for Santa Lucia too. I just need to make nice to whoever the patron saint of low cholesterol and blood sugar is in order to continue these celebrations into my older years.
Back to La Befana, here, with the good intent to please her as we prepare for her arrival on Jan. 6, I’ve written and offer an original poem in her honor. I hope she and you enjoy it.
On January 6th La Befana comes. She arrives in soot and old worn shawl
She flies past the moon and white, bright stars
Show flies on the wind in the twilight hours
Her path through the heavens resembles a dance
She brings good luck, good fortune and a renewed chance
A basket of fruit she’ll bring for some, with oranges bright to brighten this night
For others who have not been good in soul, she brings a lump of dark, black coal
For those who pay heed, their souls are cleansed
La Befana sweeps away wrong doings which helps make amends
As old as time and bent from age
La Befana comes with herbs and Sage
Rosemary, Lavender, Oregano, Basil and Thyme
These she burns and smudges for safety and blessings at Christmas time
She seeks the Infant King on his bed of straw
She seeks to share His tale of awe
She seeks to brighten winter’s eve
With gifts of hope and love’s reprieve
Through twelve days of Yule she wanders forth
She visits homes from south to north
Beholding her, one sees the sight of an ancient woman, frail, fragile and haggard as an old grey dove
But in her heart, within her spirit, La Befana personifies pure love.
Arriva con fuliggine e un vecchio scialle consumato
Vola oltre la luna e le stelle bianche e luminose
Mostra mosche nel vento nelle ore del crepuscolo
Il suo percorso attraverso i cieli assomiglia a una danza
Porta fortuna, buona fortuna e una rinnovata possibilità
Un cesto di frutta che porterà per alcuni, con arance luminose per illuminare questa notte
Per gli altri che non sono stati buoni nell’anima, porta un pezzo di carbone scuro e nero
Per coloro che prestano attenzione, le loro anime sono purificate
La Befana spazza via le azioni sbagliate che aiuta a fare ammenda
Vecchio come il tempo e piegato dall’età
La Befana con erbe e salvia
Rosmarino, Lavanda, Origano, Basilico e Timo
Questi li brucia e li macchia per sicurezza e benedizioni a Natale
Cerca il Re Bambino sul suo letto di paglia
Lei cerca di condividere la sua storia di stupore
Lei cerca di rallegrare la vigilia dell’inverno
Con doni di speranza e tregua d’amore
Attraverso dodici giorni di Yule lei vaga avanti
Visita le case da sud a nord
Guardandola, si vede la vista di una donna anziana, fragile, fragile e smunta come una vecchia colomba grigia
Ma nel suo cuore, nel suo spirito, La Befana personifica il puro amore.
Dave Kline is an award-winning writer, photographer, show host and producer, singer-songwriter, travel guide and community advocate. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Berkshire mont