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insights on art, culture, lifestyle, spirituality, travel, music, society and much much more from a jet-setter currently on "furlough"…

Archive for the tag “Tradition”

O La Befana! La Befana…?

I know, I know. It’s now January (almost) 3rd and I have yet to finish my “12 Days of Christmas in Italy” feature. The last couple of weeks in 2011 got so busy with last minute holiday excitement, photography gigs and deadlines that I simply did not have the physical energy to sit down and do ANYTHING creative, let alone blog&reflect. But now, it’s a brand new year (Buon Anno a tutti!) and since the holidays don’t officially end until after January 6th (Ephiphany), that will be my new deadline. It’s the first week back from the holidays, so I’m going to go easy on myself… and others!

Now, here’s a short entry I’ll pen for this feature (with hopes that I can wake up at the regular time and make it to my day job tomorrow – our first day back). 

 LA BEFANA

Growing up, I was always envious of the kids who celebrated Epiphany, also known as Three Kings Day. I always understood it to be a Catholic holiday and something that Protestants (the faith tradition in which I was raised) did not participate in. I didn’t know that much about Epiphany and why it was celebrated until I studied abroad in Italy in the spring of 2004.

According to Italian folklore (and many legends that one can believe), Befana (who probably originated from Central Italy and gets her name from Sabine/Roman goddess named Strina) was an old lady who spent her day cleaning and sweeping her house. One day, three travelers stopped by her house. It turns out that these three travelers were the Three Wise Men who were on their way to see the Baby Jesus in the Manger. They invited La Befana to come along. At first. she refused their invitation and considered it a waste of time. However, when she realized what she was missing out on, she grabbed her broom and ran out of the door, still wearing her apron. She tried to find the Three Wise Men, but they were long gone. To this day, La Befana is still running around in search of the Three Wise Men. Befana also brings gifts to children (small toys and sweets for the good children; onions, garlic and coal for the bad children) in hopes that she might find the Christ Child. Her role is similar to that of Santa Claus (o Babbo Natale), and many children eagerly anticipate her visit.

Source: http://goitaly.about.com/od/festivalsandevents/a/epiphany.htm

Writer’s Note: To the left, you can see a picture of La Befana standing outside of a toy/stationery store in Orvieto, Italy. To me, this representation of La Befana looks more like the evil, old peddler who gave a poisonous apple to Snow White than the “Epiphany Witch” who flies around the chimneys of Italy giving gifts to obedient children. January 6th is the official end of the Advent Season in Europe and is also a major religious holiday for those who observe it as such.

For those who are not religious? Well, it’s simply another day to give gifts…

Holiday Reflections Commence…

Welcome to the last month of 2011! It’s amazing how much time has passed since my last urge to writeand how much time has passed… period! Now that the holidays are upon us again, I have decided to reflect on the last Christmas break, which I spent in Rome and Orvieto, Italy. I am grateful to have spent that time in Italy last year, and experiencing a whole new way of celebrating the “most wonderful time of the year”. As the year draws to a close, I have decided to slow down and reflect on my time in Italy last year. To be honest, I’ve been running around like a headless chicken, working 2 jobs and getting my photography business well established this year that I’ve barely have time to think. This month, I plan on doing just that. It’s never too late, right?

Certain months of the year that were previously spent in {Italia} always makes me nostalgic for the Motherland, a place that still fuses my passion for life even after 7 years. I can now add December to the list, after spending my first (of many) Christmases in Italia last year. At times, memories come back to me: the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas in the Old World. I spend a lot of time teaching elementary and middle school kids how to write, yet rarely get to do so myself. In addition, I have also never written a series of travel journal entries, let alone shared these preciously guarded thoughts with the world.

In honor of the 12 Days of Christmas, I am giving myself a goal to write (12) Natale in Italia 2010 entries between now and the end of the year. If time wasn’t an issue, I’d blog every day. To keep things to the point, I’ll simply share my favorites.

So… here I go, diving into the unknown, ready to wet my feet and write again. I hope to brush up my rusty writing skills and share some of my favorite memories, stories and lessons of Natale in Italia 2010 with you all. Think of it as a memoir, a guidebook, musings on lessons learned and even a road map for life. I hope you will join me on this holiday adventure and welcome comments and suggestions for this revived blog! Buone Feste!!

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