A Witch and the 3 Kings for Epiphany?—Italians Do What?

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Happy Epiphany! Each year on January 6th, we celebrate the arrival of the Three Kings to present the baby Jesus and Holy Family with gifts after narrowly avoiding sending the mad King Herod on the same hunt—but with a murderous mission.

It is celebrated around the world, but in Italy, it’s an national holiday! What you may be shocked to find is that every vendor, every grocer, every major store is selling witches with brooms. But why?

Turns out, it’s actually a bittersweet story about a little old woman who was visited by the Three Kings during their journey. They told her about the baby King Jesus and invited her to join them. She didn’t have time to travel since she had so much to clean—or so she thought! So, she turned them down.

When she realized the gravity of her poor choice, she gathered a bundle of baby clothes to give the baby King, some baked goods for the Holy Family, and her broom to help clean (because the Holy Mother would be tired). And she set off to find them!

Whenever and wherever she came to a house where there were children, she cleaned a little and left treats. Legend is that on Epiphany, she sets out every year to continue her search for the Three Kings and the Christ child.

This year the visit of Old Befana falls on a Monday, sadly not a celebrated American holiday. But she still visited our house leaving treats and tidying, while pulling out all the books about the Three Kings from our collection for the kids to read! Over breakfast, while enjoying the treats she brought, we watched a reading of Tomie DePaola’s “The Legend of Old Befana.” You can purchase a hardcopy by Clicking Here.

Too late to order and don’t want the kindle version? Enjoy this delightful story by watching the same reading we did this morning below! Happy Epiphany!

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