That's all folks....
The official holiday season is over.... except for one day celebrated by few. Tomorrow is 3 Kings day. Doesn't mean much to most but in my family we celebrate La Befana. She is the Italian equivalent of Santa Claus. I'm sure that by now they also celebrate good ol' Sant Nick in Italy, but La Befana is special.
Christian legend has it that La Befana was approached by the three kings a few days before Christ's birth. They asked for directions to where the baby Jesus was, but she did not know. She provided them with shelter for a night, as she was considered the best housekeeper in the village with the most pleasant home. They invited her to join them on the journey to find the baby Jesus, but she declined, stating she was too busy with her housework. Later, La Befana had a change of heart, and tried to search out the astrologers and Jesus. That night she was not able to find them, so to this day, La Befana is searching for the baby Jesus. She leaves all the good children toys and candy, while the bad children get coal or bags of ashes. (taken from Wikipedia) Even more the Italians leave a glass of wine for her by the chimney (instead of cookies) and legend has it that she will sweep before she leaves. How about that.... Santa doesn't do windows does he?
All growing up we used to wait for 3 Kings day to take down the tree because inevitably there were a few treats for us. I have two distinct memories of those gifts... I must have been in 5th grade when "La Befana" brought me a jean skirt and a purple notebook.... I was THE happiest kid alive. Then when I was 16 my Mom and I traveled to Italy for New Years and the week after. It was the first time that I was in Italy for Befana so my aunt made sure that she had gifts for me as well as the little girl next door. We opened our gifts from Befana at the same time. There were about 6 or 7 and they were all wrapped separately. La Befana makes sure to put some "coal" in your stocking because every kid is bad sometimes.... among our gifts were wrapped potatoes and onions. Every time the little girl unwrapped a potato she would cry out with sadness, but when the adults weren't watching she turned to me and said, "I deserve this potato, I know I was a naughty girl." It was adorable.
So keep a glass of wine by the chimney tonight in case La Befana stops by and don't mind those potatoes, they are there just to keep you honest.