Befana #2

img_1737Befana Day (or Epiphany Eve) in these Italian hills has another tradition. The children do what we in America would call ‘trick or treat’ as on Halloween with an Italian twist. The children ages 2-10 years all dressed as Befanas with long skirts, shawls, babushkas, and possibly a small broom, arrive at the base of the walled city. Two accordionists, one donkey, and one pony arrive also. Everyone — parents, sisters, children — sing Befana songs and follow the #1 Befana and her broomstick through town, stopping at particular merchants for decorated brown paper stockings filled with candies. The stockings are then broken and candies scattered amongst the children. I followed at a discreet distance, an American interloper in a particularly local img_1733and Italian tradition. I loved it! This year, the merchants were receiving donations of all kinds of cookies to have for the children in the square after the Befana tour. We were invited to participate and were well prepared with American cookies…chocolate chip and peanut butter, both typical American favorites which seem to be wonderfully received here in our small town. Mind you the peanut butter and the chocolate chips both have arrived from America in ‘incoming’ luggage as these American staples do NOT exist in an Italian market. Having been a traveler in my early years, I know that American Embassies have a book for incoming ex-img_1739patriates and one entry is always where chocolate chips can be purchased, or if you can purchase them. One of my most unique purchases of chocolate chips involved a street garage door, open only at certain times; chocolate chips were available from a 100 lb bag sitting on the garage floor. Undoubtedly, these had been flown over in some cargo plane but if you want chocolate chips you bless however or whatever  was done to make these gems available. You savor your chocolate chip cookies! Of course you were willing to pay…no $2.99 Nestle’s!

 

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