La Befana



I once spent a winter in Italy, where I learned the wonderful tale and tradition of La Befana. She comes on January 5, delivering presents.

To honor this good-hearted witch, I composed a poem. Enjoy!



Twelve days after Christmas while Italy sleeps,
La Befana prepares to take flight.
This kindly old witch dressed in raggedy clothes,
brings presents for children all night.

Down the chimney she flies on her magic broom,
clutching a giant black bag.
She nibbles on snacks left close to the fire,
while stockings are stuffed ’til they sag.

A good child finds oranges and candy and toys,
a bad child finds small lumps of coal.
These little carbone, jet-black sugar cubes,
mean “sweetening up” is your goal!

Some say she is seeking the Three Kings of yore,
who asked her to join in their quest.
But she stayed home to clean and sent them away,
to follow the star leading west.

Now each year she journeys in search of the Child,
whose birth was a gift to mankind.
Some children are happy, some children are sad,
when they see what she’s left behind.

Imagine you’re hanging a stocking that night,
as wishful bambinos all do.
When morning arrives and you rush to the hearth,
what has La Befana brought you?


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