La Befana is represented like an old woman who flies on her broom stick every
The story tells about a woman who lost her husband and her child. In a cold night, the 6th of January, nearly 2000 years ago this old woman received some visitors who reported that they saw the star and they were looking for Bethlehem. They spoke joyously. They were exhuberent in their quest and bid the old lady to accompany them as they searched for the king. But she was afraid. These were strange men, richly dressed, and
Word has spread,” said the shepherd, “and many of us have heard it from angels!”. He too bid her to come and rejoice with him in Bethlehem to welcome the newborn king. Again she declined, thinking it might be wise of her to wait until the morning. To her amazement she saw then the new star in the sky she had studied so regularly. So it was true! A baby! The very thought made her heart leap with hope and excitement. Yes, she thought, I will go in the morning.
All that night she prepared to depart. Gathering her most prized possessions she considered what she should do. She was poor and had little to give. But the kings had gold to bring the baby. And the shepherd too had gifts to bear. What could she, a lonely, sad old woman bring to honor this new king? She opened her chest and reached in for the doll. Tears instantly welled in her eyes at the touch of the aged toy. How she missed her baby! She thought of her chubby little fingers holding the doll, her wet little lips giving it kisses those many years ago. This doll, as much as she loved it, as much as she had caressed it in her pain of many years, would now bring joy again to another baby and ultimately to herself. She took the tattered piece of wool from her wedding dress, dyed it a lovely royal purple and sewed together a robe for the newborn king. These would be her gifts. Humble, but all she had. I n the morning she arose quickly and set out on the road, not knowing when she would ever return to her home. It mattered not to her. She had a mission. She had new hope. She had to find the Baby King.
But no one else was on the road that morning. She stopped to ask directions to Bethlehem but nobody she met had even heard of the place. She travelled all day, wandering and then into the night, where she looked for the star to guide her as it had the wise men and the shepherd. But the skies were unfamiliar to her now and the star she did not see. She was lost.
To this day she wanders, carrying her gifts and treasures, peering into the faces of babies as she goes. Still she seeks the Christ child. Though she has not found him, she gives what she can to the sweet children she visits each Christmas night. Her heart still longs for her baby and the gifts she brings are her way of feeling that child’s love.
La Befana Song
Rosa for Migue’s blog 2010