My name is Silvia La Ragione and I am writing from Rome to tell you something about our Christmas holidays.

La Befana

Of the holidays I have memories of the cold weather, the Christmas trees adorned with glass balls of many colors and the kitchen table filled with delicious food.

My favorite holiday foods are: the homemade fettuccine and ravioli, lamb with roasted potatoes, il panettone, il torrone (a kind of nougat), dried figs, nuts, dates and almonds.

My favorite holiday occurs on January 6. It is commonly known as "La Befana" (Epiphany).

La Befana is an old lady with a big nose and a red mole on top of it. She wears an old coat mended with colorful patches. Her shoes are big, old and broken. She flies around on a broom and carries with her a big black bag filled with sweets and presents for children all over the world. She enters the houses through the chimneys and deposits the presents inside the old socks that we hang the night before, before going to sleep. In the morning when we wake up, we are very happy to find our old socks filled with presents. But for the children who have not been good throughout the year there will not be presents. Instead La Befana will fill their sock with charcoal.

One night, after hanging a big old sock in the kitchen I went to bed. In the middle of the night something woke me up. There was somebody in the kitchen, I didn't dare to leave the bed but I knew that it was "La Befana". "La Befana" is a good person and loves children very much. The next day, together with the presents she left also a drawing of herself, she is exactly as I imagined her. The best things of the holidays are the presents and the fact that my school is closed.

A big hug from Silvia!

Click here for a delicious Italian holiday recipe.

- originally published in the Sept./Oct 1994 issue of ZuZu

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