Monday, January 5, 2009

Traditional Italian Christmas Celebrations

Last night was the bonfires in the towns of Italy. We didn't know what this was all about the past two years, so this year we decided to check it out. We found the field here in Aviano where the bonfire was lit. It was 27 freakin' degrees outside and we are standing in the middle of a field freezin' our butts off!!! When the time came for the huge pile of wood to be lit we were standing at the edge of the field close to the pile. As soon as the pile was lit, Kaitlyn started screaming and ran to the back of the crowd where Aimee and Wendy were standing. When I realized she wasn't standing there I looked back to the girls and Kaitlyn was wide-eyed, staring at the bonfire and hiding behind Wendy. Once we got her calmed down we brought her to the front with Dave and I so she could see it up close. She got used to it and realized that there wasn't anything to be afraid of. Aimee and Wendy got some good pictures, as did I, and they were ready to go home. Kaitlyn didn't want to leave. It was a good time and now we understand yet another Italian tradition.

The Feast of the Epiphany, celebrated January 6 with a national holiday in Italy, and the tradition of La Befana are a big part of Italian Christmas celebrations. Epiphany commemorates the 12th day of Christmas when the three Wise Men arrived at the manger bearing gifts for Baby Jesus. Traditional Christmas holidays run from Christmas Eve through Epiphany although many Christmas events start on December 8, the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception or Santa Lucia Day, December 13.
La Befana
Italy's traditional celebration includes the tale of a white-haired witch known as La Befana who arrives on her broomstick during the night of January 5 and fills the stockings with toys and sweets for the good children and lumps of coal for the bad ones.
According to the legend, the night before the Wise Men arrived at the manger they stopped at the shack of an old woman to ask directions. They invited her to come along but she replied that she was too busy. Then a shepherd asked her to join him but again she refused.
Later that night, she saw a great light in the sky and decided to join the Wise Men and the shepherd bearing gifts that had belonged to her child who had died. She got lost and never found the manger.
Now La Befana flies around on her broomstick each year on the 11th night, bringing gifts to children in hopes that she might find the Baby Jesus. Children hang their stockings on the evening of January 5 awaiting the visit of La Befana.
La Befana Festivals
The town of Urbania, in Le Marche region, holds a 4-day festival for La Befana from January 2-6. Children can meet La Befana in La Casa della Befana. This is one of the biggest celebrations for La Befana in Italy.
The Befana races are held in Venice on January 6. Men dressed as La Befana race in boats on the Grand Canal.


Sandra said...

That was great Pam thanks for posting. Very interesting. Sounds like someone had some regrets and now goes around making up for it. Pretty cool. I love hearing about other traditions from other countries. :)

The Christensen Family said...

Wow! We learn something new from everyones blogs. That is very interesting.

Kari said...

Just fyi, it's been down to 12 degrees at night here in Clearfield. Maybe colder. Expected to be about 9 or below tonight. I'll take 27! But I love bon fires! Thanks for sharing. I hope Kaitlyn is ok now. Poor thing.

Kristen said...

Ok this has nothing to do with your blog except its nice, however I need a translation...I know weird.
In Italian can you tell me what this means?
stiamo ritoccando. scusi prego
email me when and or if you know.