Monday, December 21, 2015

One More Christmas Visitor

Here's a bonus entry for my Listverse article 10 Benevolent or Frightening Christmas Visitors.

11 Befana the Epiphany Witch

Photo via giglionews

Befana is an old witch that gives gifts to the children of Italy on January 5, a celebration day known as Epiphany Eve. She functions much in the same way as Santa Claus, and she has an interesting story.

When the Three Wise Men were following the north star to meet baby Jesus, they stopped at Befana's house for directions. Befana was the best housekeeper in her village, and invited the Wise Men to rest for the night at her house. She fed them and pampered them so well that they asked if she would like to travel with them to meet Jesus. Befana declined because she was too busy with her chores, but after they left she had a change of heart. Although she went after them, she was unable to catch-up. To this day she is still searching for baby Jesus, leaving gifts for all the children she meets on her journey. Don't let her see you though. She is very shy and will swing her broom at anyone who looks upon her.

There's also a darker, and much different, version of this tale. In it, Befana is mad with grief after losing her child. When she hears that Jesus has been born, she thinks he must be her lost child and goes in search of him. When she finds him she gives him all sorts of gifts, and in return Jesus makes her mother of all the children in Italy.

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