Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Befuddled and Bewildered By Befana

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The church bulletin said Befana would arrive at 13:30 Tuesday in the catechism-class building up from the church. I saw Christmas stockings and assorted images, from Cabbage-patch like copies to hand-carved and twisted crones to Smile happy faces of la buona strega Befana (The good witch Befana) displayed for sale leading up to the Epiphany – Jan. 6 and also known as Little Christmas in our part of the world.

I got to the hall about 30 minutes early, right after Don Bruno and his team of teens got there to set up the small hall.

I asked an early arrival if Befana would be on stage doling out goodies to the kids. She nodded and told me Don Bruno was taking care of things. Tables were moved around, chairs were hustled into the room, boxes of assorted children’s goodies and gifts were emptied — hold on, some prizes included wine and umbrellas. So I clicked some photos as the hall filed with a couple of dozen people, most of the older women. And they began playing Tambolo, the church version of Bingo.

I wandered down to Masolino’s and checked in with Stefania and she was confused about my confusion. “Pensavo andavo a vedere Befana” (I thought I was going to see Befana)

I showed her the little note about her making an appearance at that place at that time and the light dawned. She explained that the “arrival” of Befana was the little gifts of goodies handed out by the priest as special prizes to the youngsters as he called out the Tambolo numbers – from one to 90.

We give everybody gifts at Christmas “ma solo i bambini a Epifania.”

The legend of Befana, briefly, is that she turned away the magi looking for the baby Jesus and, having second thoughts about her error, runs around on the Epiphany and delivers sweets to young children hoping to redeem herself should she find the right child.

“It’s all over – the holidays – on the Epiphany,” Stefania said.

She’s right. We’re heading to  Bologna for a handful of days – plan side trips to Ravenna, Parma and, perhaps, Rimini or Padua or Modena — before heading home next Wednesday.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

January 6, 2010 at 7:42 am

Posted in Europe, Travel

Tagged with , , ,

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