The Befana: a gay nightmare!

On the 6th of January we celebrate the real gay nightmare: the end of the Christmas season!

What does that mean? It means that we have to dismantle our beautifully decorated Christmas tree. It means that we can’t justify anymore our obsessive compulsive shopping with just buying presents to my BFFs. Furthermore It means that we can’t wear anymore our amazing, sometimes cheeky and cheesy Christmas jumpers!

It is such a gay nightmare isn’t it? In Italy on the so called Twelfth Night of Christmas, we celebrate the ugliest character of them all: the Befana.

Befana Gay Nightmare
Befana Gay Nightmare

Befana is an old an ugly whitch (also known as Christmas witch) wearing a black shawl and covered in soot who flies around the sky on her broomstick (similar to the one I am flying in Lecce with the magic Halno) on the the night of January 5. She flies all night, delivering gifts to children throughout Italy on Epiphany Eve: she enters the children’s houses through the chimney .

Before going to bed, kids must leave big empty Christmas Socks out of their door. It is a real gay nightmare: if they have been good, Befana will fill their socks with sweets and presents; if they have been bad the kids will find charcoals instead.

Befana SocksThe name of this witch, Befana, is a corruption of the Greek word Epiphania (Epiphany in English).

L’Epifania tutte le feste le porta via

This Italian way of saying can be translated as The Epiphany takes away all the festivities. The day of the Epiphany (January 6) marks the end of the famous twelve days of Christmas (how all lovers of Shakespeare know very well).

Why does the Befana bring presents (or charcoals, a real gay nightmare!) on Epiphany night? That’s because of the Legend of the Three Kings, who follow the sacred Comet. According to the Christian tradition, that is the day when Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar, the Three Wise Men, arrive to Bethlehem bringing their presents to the newly-born Jesus Christ, gold, frankincense and myrrh.

In the traditional Italian Nativity Scenes, some of which you have already seen with me here, the Three Kings are finally shown arriving to the manger and to honor the King who came to save the world from the human sins.

Three Kings
Three Kings

Italian Traditions for Befana Day

Whether you believe to the Christian version or not, you must know that the gay nightmare, the Befana, is a very big tradition in Italy. January 6 is actually Public Holiday in all Italy!

Gios on a Broomstick
Gios on a Broomstick

Many towns and cities celebrate this day organizing special street markets where to sell toys, candies, sweets. If you happen to be in Rome between  Christmas and the Epiphany, don’t miss out the big market in Piazza Navona.

So, have you been good or bad in 2016? Now you know. You better behave or the gay nightmare of gay charcoal will be your present next year today!

Buongiorno :) What are you thinking?

IGLTA