Today, I’m having an Epiphany or, rather, an Epifania. Today is the feast of the Epiphany, which is known as Epifania in Italy. Get it?
Many around the world refer to this day as Little Christmas, the day when the three wise men arrived in Bethlehem bearing gifts for Baby Jesus. Anyway, my husband and I are heading into our son’s school to read Tomie dePaola’s book, Old Befana, and bring little gifts from the Italian Christmas witch, who visits Italian homes on the eve of the Epiphany. Yes, La Befana as she is fondly known uses a broom instead of reindeer. Being poor, she only leaves a small gift and some chocolate (also mandarins and walnuts) for good little boys and girls and coal for those who’ve been naughty. My father remembers finding these treats in his shoes or his sister’s actual stockings when he was a kid in Italy in the 1950s. Nowadays, kids leave out pretty stockings like the ones Americans use for Santa’s visit. And the witch made it all the way to the United States and left our son and his cousins a few treats. The fact that this tradition combines images of my son’s two favorite holidays – Halloween and Christmas – is a priceless bonus. Tonight, we eat and eat some more. The homemade pizza dough is already rising. To all who celebrate, have yourself a merry Little Christmas now!
Di Meglio uses the written word to help families create memories and stick together. You can follow her on Facebook at Francesca’s Newlyweds Nest and on Twitter @ItalianMamma10.