Saturday, January 12, 2008

Aaaaand it's a wrap.

The holiday season finally ended here in Italy with the Epiphany on January 6. On the night of the 5th, a good witch called La Befana visits Italian bambini as they sleep, leaving gifts. In case you've lost count, that's three--count 'em--three gift-getting occasions for Italian kids in the space of one month (including San Nicolo on December 6, and Christmas). Italian parents are now officially out of money.

If you haven't heard the legend of the Befana, you might want to check out Tomie dePaola's picture book here. But basically, it's the story of a cranky old lady who watches the procession of the Three Kings pass by her door. When a boy tells her that they're on their way to visit a baby king, she decides she doesn't want to miss out. She follows the northern star, but by the time she gets there, the holy family is long gone. (Obviously, showing up late has been a recurring theme in Italian culture for thousands of years...).

Italian children don't put out stockings for Babbo Natale (Santa Claus), but they do for the Befana.

According to legend, the Befana is supposed to sweep up before she leaves. I'm not sure what type of broom she's using, but it's the kind that leaves all the big dust bunnies behind. I'd like to see her update to one of those fancy vacuum cleaners that vacuums up the dust and washes the floors at the same time. Maybe even a rider vacuum (do they have those?).

She's only supposed to sweep the rooms where the children sleep, though. That's January 5, I'll have one kid sleep in the kitchen, one the living room, and the other in the garage.

How about you--are you glad the holidays are over?


Julie_c said...

So, for this holiday, you have to leave gifts AND clean up. Sounds like a bit of a downer for Mama! But the three gift-giving occasions sounds like our lives with a December 30th birthday boy. 1. Gifts for Xmas 2. Gifts on actual birthday 3. gifts for birthday party a week later.

We're out of money too!

Rose Green said...

Yeah, well, I admit to relief when the holidays are over--all eight or nine of them (Nikolaus, two days of Christmas, and Drei Koenige, plus a lot of birthdays of close family members that unfortunately fall between Dec 6 and Jan 11).

Glad to hear you all survived!