Tuesday, January 6, 2009

My favorite last little bit o' Christmas

The Adoration of the Magi, Peter Paul Rubens 1577 – 1640
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyon

Western Christians have celebrated January 6 as the Epiphany, or the arrival of the Magi, for centuries. Growing up Catholic, for me January 6 signified that and the last chance for presents. Need I say what garnered greater importance for me at age 10?

My mother who is a full-blooded, hot-tempered Italian and a good Catholic - also incorporated La Befana into our holiday. For those who may be unfamiliar, La Befana is an Italian folklore figure - cross between a witch and a sweet granny. She leaves all the good children candy and toys, while the bad children get coal. For some reason, we always got three books. Hmmm...

Long story short - the Magi asked La Befana for directions to find the Baby Jesus. (That's a myth...ask for directions? Please.) She couldn't help them but offered shelter for the night.

When they departed, the Magi invited her to join them on the journey to find the Christ child, but she declined, saying she was too busy with her housework. (Typical Italian granny.) She later changed her mind and tried to search out the Magi and the babe, Jesus. Unable to find them, she now continues her search for the baby Jesus on the eve of the Epiphany.

Consider me your blogging La Befana - minus the granny part. (Wish I couldn't lay claim to being called a witch once or twice, but you knew better...)

Three of my favorite books for you:

Saints: A Year in Faith and Art. Beautiful book with interesting, brief descriptions of saints corresponding with their day of beatification and incredible art. Even if saints or art are not your thing - it will make my mom really happy if you crack the binding.

Ahhh...more familiar territory - sinners. Sin in the Second City: Madams, Ministers, Playboys, and the Battle for America's Soul is a great book about the most famous brothel in American history, the Everleigh Club of Chicago. (My mom would not approve.)

My Misspent Youth: Essays - Not my autobiography, but witty and dripping with sarcasm. Love her writing.

I know this was long. Thanks for hanging in there for this last little bit o' Christmas.

Now, bring on the king cake!

Mrs. News Readin'


The Lawyer's Wife said...

Being born on Epiphany was really special to my Catholic family. It sucked in my opinion! We spent all day taking down the tree and decorations and I got a lot of "your gift is small since we just had Christmas"!!!

Now I find it special and am very happy celebrating on January 6th ...

It is the 7th I am not a fan of ... the day all the decorations go far away!!!

News Readin' Wife said...

It's always so depressing to take everything down. The house always looks so bare. :(

a. @ coterie said...

I hate the "bare" look too. So depressing. The only plus is that we are a little bit closer to spring/summer.

Meghan Daum was a good friend of a co-worker of mine at the publishing house when I worked in NYC. I keep a file of all the old articles from the NY Observer and TimeOut NY - I have one of hers that is hysterical.

Legallyblondemel said...


And thank you for the book recommendations. I hope one day to be able to stop reading the vampire books & move on to something else like that Meghan Daum book.

Ainslie Place said...

Hi. I saw your comment over at Coterie and checked out your blog (largely on the basis of the cool photo). Nice to meet another paisano.

Do you have Tomie dePaola's book "The Legend of Old Befana"? It's beautifully illustrated and I have a copy tucked away for my kids. I also bought a copy for our Sunday School resource room.

The 5 Bickies said...

My husband was sent the most fabulous King Cake from one of his employees. We ALL have been chowing on it all week and just discovered it's even better warmed a little. Love the story they sent with it..a great extension of Christmas.