Have you ever heard about La Befana? I will tell you something about her. She is a witch! And she is a gift giver at Christmas time!
If you live in Italy, it is not Santa Claus that brings the presents. The old lady on her broom will pop in just before the Epiphany and leave you something nice. Of course, if you were a good boy or girl. If not, she will leave you a lump of coal.
It all started more than two thousand years ago when a mysterious star appeared in the sky. La Befana lived in a little house amidst the beautiful Italian hills. One day three kings were passing near her cottage and asked her if she knew the way to Bethlehem.
– Why are you going to Bethlehem? – she asked.
– We saw the star in the sky and we are going to Bethlehem to worship the newly born King of the Jews. You may come with us if you want.
But La Befana refused and stayed at home. The kings went away and La Befana sat in her house and thought about the Child the three men had talked about. But after a little time, she changed her mind. ‘Not every day such a Child is born’ she thought. As quick as she could, she looked for the best dress she had. She also took some presents for the baby. She also took her broom to lend child’s mother a helping hand. She rushed out of her house but the three kings were nowhere to be found. There was also no star anymore. But La Befana did not want to give up and started looking for the Baby. She searched and searched but soon got lost.
The Angels noticed her great effort and came down from the sky to talk to her. They bestowed magical powers upon her. From this moment La Befana could fly on her broomstick wherever she wanted. She started visiting all the houses looking for the little Jesus. Wherever she came across a child she left a gift. She has been doing so since then.
I wish La Befana visited children not only in Italy. Maybe one day she will come to children all over the world. Remember that it is good to leave her a glass of wine and a plate with a few morsels of food.