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La Befana – One Cool Crone

by Sam Dunham

Thanks to global warming is going to have to navigate through some strange old weather as she visits the children in tonight to celebrate Epiphany – the 3 King greeting of the new-born Jesus celebrated in Catholic countries on the 6th .

For those who have never heard of La Befana before, she is a witch, sorceress, or think Macbethian old crone, whizzing across the Italian countryside on her broomstick.   Children hang up stockings next to the chimney, her entrance to their house, which she whooshes down and leaves gifts depending on their behaviour; she leaves lumps of coal, and onion and garlic for the naughty (still obviously a gift though, bringing warmth and the means to fight off colds) and for the virtuous sweeties & small gifts.

She’s one famous witch who has become a noted eco-warrior due to her green method of transport – no methane producing reindeers, recycled rags for clothing and who only needs some soaked in wine to facilitate her passage through the night.  What a cool crone!

For a brilliant article on La Befana’s pagan and cultural history  read – The Befana Tradition