On the night of the Epiphany, a joyful, broomstick-riding hag clad in a tattered shawl drops into chimneys all over Italy, bestowing gifts to good children, and dropping coal into the stockings of naughty kiddies.
La Befana vien di notte
Con le scarpe tutte rotte
Col vestito alla Romana
Viva, Viva La Befana!
As the Three Wise Men searched for the house of the Christ child, they found themselves lost. Eventually, they stopped at a small house and knocked on the door. A small, wizened woman opened the door, holding a broom in her hand. The Astrologers asked the woman if she knew the location of the child, but, unfortunately, she did not know who these men were looking for, and could not aid them in their search. It was deep into the night, and the air was chilly, so the kindly woman offered the three men her hospitality. They spent the night in her warm, comfortable home, and shared bread and stories with one another. The Astrologers explained to the woman why they were looking for this blessed infant, and invited her to join them in their search come morning. Though she was touched by their tale, she declined, as she had a great deal of housework to do. At daybreak, the Astrologers awoke. They thanked the woman for her generosity, gathered their things, and prepared to leave. Before they departed, they, again, asked the old woman if she would like to join them on their journey. Again, she declined, and sent them on their way. After they had left, she regretted her decision, and she set off to find the Three Wise Men. After many long and frustrating hours of searching, she still could not find them. Saddened, yet still filled with hope, she stopped to give a gift to every good child she passed.
La Befana comes by night
With her shoes old and broken
She comes dressed in the Roman way
Long life to the Befana!
Candy charcoal, winter lilies, parma violet, a sprig of cypress, a poof of chimney dust, and holiday sweets.
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