While we were at Disney World last week, we spent two days at Epcot. Of course, I had to hear the Christmas witch’s story in Italy. La Befana is a witch who delivers gifts to children throughout Italy on the Eve of Ephiphany.
La Befana’s story is sad to me. La Befana was at her home when then magi came a few days before the birth of Jesus. They asked for directions to where the Son of God was, as they had seen his star in the sky, but she didn’t know. The magi invited her to join them on the journey to find the baby Jesus, but she declined, saying she was too busy with her housework. Later, La Befana had a change of heart, and tried to search out the astrologers and Jesus, but she couldn’t find them. To this day, La Befana is still searching for the little baby. She leaves all the good gifts as one of them might just be the Christ child.
In popular folklore La Befana visits all the children of Italy on the eve of Epiphany to fill their stockings with candy and presents if they are good or a lump of coal or dark candy if they are bad. The child’s family typically leaves a small glass of wine and a plate with a few morsels of food for her. She ‘s a lot like Santa, even entering the homes through the chimney. She is usually portrayed as an old lady riding a broomstick through the air wearing a black shawl and is covered in soot. She is often smiling and carries a bag or hamper filled with candy, gifts, or both.
I have to say, the storyteller at Disney just did a fabulous job. Reading the stories is one thing, but actually having them told is a rare treat for me.
Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all. Feel free to join in.