Befana, The Christmas Witch

  1. I am one of three daughters to Australian born parents of Italian immigrants. Both of my parents lived in Italy for some of their life and were raised Italian in Australia.
  2. They were 'wog kids' who ate salami sandwiches at lunchtime in amongst blonde children eating Vegemite sandwiches. They were teased and taunted. They both grew up not wanting that for their children.
  3. Our upbringing was wholly Australian except for visits to our grandparent's and Wednesday nights when we at 'proper' spaghetti. This outright Australian culturalisation therefore mean't we had a Christmas tree and waited for Santa to deliver gifts on Dec 25.
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  5. A few Christmases ago, I enjoyed a proper winter Christmas. After an intensely bizarre New Year's Eve in Lake Bled, Slovenia, I spent time with my mum's family in the northern Italian alps.
  6. It was a few days of bliss. The 'neve' was glistening white and deep and everyone was still high off of New Year's. A day or two short of the 5th, and I received a gift from an older Zia (aunt).
  7. I opened it and it revealed an ugly woman-doll holding a broom. I had one cousin who could roughly translate and on returning home needed to further research this hideous gift!
  8. I received a Befana doll. The Christmas Witch. She is basically Italy's version of Santa Claus, and visits your home on the eve of January 6th.
  9. Same deal: if you're good, you get gifts or candy and if you're bad a stick or a lump of coal.
  10. It is customary to leave Befana a cookie and nip of wine. Not milk, wine. Have respect for Befana!
  11. And the broom? Well, It is said, that after she delivers the gifts, she sweeps away the negative vibes of the previous year, to leave a clean slate for the new one.
  12. I never have celebrated the La Festa dell'Epifania (Day of the Epiphany - 6th Jan) and put out my Befana doll. Yet I very much do believe in clearing out negativity. It might be the year I start.
  13. Given I don't have children for Befana to visit for, maybe I'll just sweep my floors and drink some red in her honour!