Thursday, December 24, 2015

Advent Calendar Day 24: La Befana

Over the next month, I'll be offering thoughts on the Nativity set model, a large papercraft crèche that you can find and download here:

Advent Calendar Day 24: La Befana

La Befana is the Italian gift-giver, just like we get Santa Claus, the Spanish get the Three Kings, and the Austrians get Baby Jesus (he doesn’t come down the chimney; I checked).  Her original story is heartbreakingly sad, and its traditional alternative is kind of lackluster, so I’m offering a variation that marries the two.

The Three Kings, on their way to see baby Jesus, ask for shelter for the night at a rural house.  In it, La Befana (whose name derives from a mispronunciation of “Epiphany” and who probably has OCD) is busy cleaning, as she always does.  Learning that they’re taking gifts to a baby, she volunteers to go, too; her kids are grown and she’s itching to get rid of their old toys.  Following the kings, she gives Jesus the toys, delighting him, and in thanks he bestows upon her immortality and a magic hamper perpetually full of toys so that she can bring other children as much joy as she did him.  She also uses her broom to tidy up the manger for Mary.  You could eat off that floor.

La Befana now rides her broom from house to house, leaving toys for youngsters and flying up the chimney.  

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