Monday, 7 January 2008

The Befana day

In Italy, on 6th January is the "Befana day", Befana is the name of a witch which brings sweet and candy to good children and coal (made of sugar) to bad ones in a socks on the fireplace. Originally this was a pagan rite which in some forms is still found nowadays in local and traditional manifestations held in some regions of Italy in which a witch puppet is burned to represent the archaic pagan meaning of the old that rebirth; the old woman in fact is the old past year and gifts are a well wishes for the new year coming.

The legend says that the old woman met the Re Magi "Three Kings" which invited her to joint the trip to Betlem to adore Jesus but she refused and the morning after she would reach them but can't found the Little Baby Jesus, so from that time she brings gifts to children all over the world hoping one of them could be Jesus and so to be forgive.

Catholicism just in III century a.C. commemorate the divine Jesus manifestations, such as miracles, on the 6th of January with the greek word of Epifania, meaning "divine manifestation" which is the alternative name of the "Befana day" also nowadays.
Emperor Costantino in IV century wanted to eradicate the pagan Sun holiday, on the 25th december, so decided to move the holiday for the birth of Jesus anticipating that day from the 6th Jannuary to 25th December, and on 6th January putted the visit of the Three Kings adoring Baby Jesus.

The Befana represent for me an alternative to Santa Claus, who needs reindeers and elfs, because she is indipendent, she is very active, and give an alternative use of the broom! ;) a good example for all also for Santa and his waist!.
There is a Befana/witch in every woman, so I don't complain when on 6th January people say to me: "Good Befana!"... Perhaps because of the italian feminist slogan of the 60's: "tremble tremble, witches are back!!!"

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