Unhappily, this means that this year we will probably not be attending the arrival of La Befana, the Italian witch who puts in an appearance on Epiphany, bringing gifts to the children. In Cannobio, she arrives at the lakeside in a coxless pair from some undefinable point on the lake, rowed by two hunks from the local rowing club, for the delight of a large crowd of expectant children (and their mothers).
The La Befana story, as far as I understand it, is as follows : in Bethlehem lives an old woman, mourning a child who died. When the angels send the shepherds to the stable, they drop in on her and invite her to come with them. In her grief for her own baby she refuses. On the way back to their flocks, the shepherds tell her all about it and she is fired with inspiration. She throws all the toys she has lying around the house into a sack and heads for the stable. Unhappily, she has missed the Holy Family, who are already on their flight to Egypt (if you'll excuse the pun). On her sad journey back home, she distributes the toys to the children she meets.
Here in Carmine it's also Twelfth Night and, as prescribed, we're undressing the Christmas tree and bundling up the cards and giftwrap for next year's craft efforts. As Shakespeare wrote (though not in Twelfth Night), "our revels now are ended" - Christmas is officially over and now it's only a matter of a couple of days before we're back on the slippery slope to kindergarten.
Copyright © Louise Bostock 2007, 2008, 2009. All rights reserved. Please ask first.