The show In Real Life on WFMU in New Jersey/NYC asked to talk to me for their Christmas episode this year. How cool is that? It’s the first time someone asked to talk to ME rather than me asking to talk to someone else.
You can listen to the show here:
Overall, I think I did pretty well! But, yeah, I got the Befana story wrong a bit. I was nervous! The real story is more like this, which I cribbed from an old Slate story:
According to Southern Italian folklore, La Befana is an old woman—her witch status, to be fair, is disputed—whose home the Magi swung by on their way to visit Baby Jesus (here’s a short write-up from ItalyHeritage.com). The Three Kings apparently asked her for directions and stayed over at her house for the night. The next morning, they invited her to come along on their journey, but she declined, saying she had too much housework to do. After they left, though, she changed her mind, and decided to try to join them in their search. But it was too late. She couldn’t find them, and she never found her way to baby Jesus.
So now La Befana flies her broom around on the night before the Jan. 6 Feast of Epiphany, which commemorates the Magi’s meeting with baby Jesus. She leaves candies and small toys in good children’s shoes or stockings, and coal in bad ones’. The general consensus on the Internet seems to be that her name is an abbreviation or regional variation of the word epiphany. Families often leave her a glass of wine and a plate of sausage and broccoli (see Italian-Link), which sounds vastly superior to Santa’s typical fare.