Saturday, December 22, 2007

Celebrating the Return of the Light

Here's a lovely Befana shot from sister hag Mary Li (thanks, Mary). La Befana for those of you who have been wondering is an Italian legendary figure who famously travels the land on the eve of the Epiphany (aka Twelfth Night) leaving gifts of candy. There are a few versions of the legend that range from quaint to bittersweet, from ethical to moralistic, but all agree that La Befana is an old woman who did not give directions to those peripatetic Magi (aka Three Wise Men aka astrologers from the east aka three kings aka George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg and Ice Cube) as well as failed to accept an invitation to join them in their pursuit of that shining star and the Christ child. After having second thoughts, La Befana runs after the travellers, but it's too late. Thus she spends every eve of the Epiphany in her own endless pursuit. When i have a wee bit more time i may render my own version of this charming legend, for there are many themes within it that are close to my heart, not the least of which is gift giving. But in reflecting on this legend this weekend i was struck by the more moralistic versions (e.g. if the child is good she gets candy but if bad, coal) and i suspect that few people, if any at all, give coal. And the more benign take on the gift-giving of La Befana is that she sees divinity, the sacred, in every child. And in this sense, are no all children, including those of us who haven't been children for a long time, deserving of these gifts?

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