Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Last of the Christmas Holidays

Here in the part of Italy where I live there is a big celebration the night before Epiphany called the Bufana. This is based around a legend of the Three Wise Men ... who, like most men, were able to become so lost on their way to adore the Christ child that they ended up here in northern Italy instead of Bethlehem. Finally a miracle occured and they stopped to ask directions at a small cottage ( I know I know ... go figure). When the old woman answered the door they offered to take her with them to Bethlehem. She showed them her broom and told them she had too much housework to do to go wondering off (with three King who were obviously directionally challeged) but she gave them directions and sent them on their way. A few days later she realized that she had missed an amazing opportunity and so she left her home in search of the Christ child herself. Not knowing how she would be able recognize him she gave gifts and candy to every child she met in the hopes that they would turn out to be the Child she was searching for.
Here she is still giving candy and gifts to the children in the village. But wait! There's more! Here in the Friuli region where I live every village and farm builds the biggest bonfire they can (it's a bit of a competition) with either a cross or ... get this ... a witch on top. Why they want to burn the person bringing the gifts is beyond me but anyway about half of them do. The bonfire comes from the old pagan ritual meant to remind the sun to return but this being a Catholic country they have a priest come out and say a prayer and bless the pile of debris with holy water and voila! it is all ok. Then, while what looks like half the village is burning, the spectators set off firecrackers and drink vin brulee (hot spiced wine) and eat roast pork and a special cake that is a combination pumpkin bread/fruit cake.
It was an amazing amount of fun going out and seeing all of this with my friends. And on the drive home we all kept pointing out the fires along the way. Next year I will have to go and do this again!
Midwinter whiteout
Only the sound of the birds
Hidden in the trees.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That all sounds good to me! We had an advert on tv before Christmas of the 3 Wise Men - the first saying her had brought gold, the second that he had brought frankinsence, and the third .... a frisbee, because the shops had nothing else left (silly, but I laughed every time!!)