The Christmas season doesn't officially end until the 12th day of Christmas, which is the Feast of the Epiphany. The word Epiphany means “manifestation” or “revelation”. This day marks the arrival of the Three Kings, who brought gifts to the baby Jesus. This feast is celebrated in many different parts of the world. Specifically, in Italy, this day is associated with the coming of La Befana.
The legend of La Befana is known by all children throughout Italy. The name Befana is derived from the word epifania, which means Epiphany in Italian. She is an old, good woman dressed in raggedy clothes who gives sweets to good children on the night of the Epiphany, which falls on January 6th. She is often pictured with a broom and a black shawl around her shoulders. Her story begins when she is asked by the Three Kings for directions to baby Jesus. She did not know and couldn’t help them. They invited her to join their travels to seek for Him. La Befana refused, explaining that she was occupied with her housework. Later on, however, she changed her mind and decided to look for the baby as well. She was unsuccessful in her search that night. The legend says she continues to give toys and candy to all children in hopes that one of them is the baby Jesus.
La Befana places the goodies in their stockings or shoes. However, the children who misbehave don’t get presents or sweets, receiving black coal instead. It is also said that she cleans the floor when she comes to the children’s homes, as she is a good housekeeper. This action is symbolic for the cleansing of all the troubles and hardships of the year.
There is a little jingle that Italian children like to sing:
La Befana vien di notte
con le scarpe tutte rotte
col vestito alla romana
Viva viva La Befana!
Which translates to:
The Befana comes at night
In worn out shoes
Dressed like a Roman
Long live the Befana!
My Saturday mornings almost always include unwillingly listening to my little brother’s TV shows. After all, when a 7-year-old kid wants to watch “Sesame Street”, there is no stopping them. Naturally, with Christmas coming up, there was an episode about Santa Claus. As the story went on, our favorite furry monsters had encountered a huge conflict: Santa was unable to bring presents! An elf exclaimed, “Now Christmas won’t come!” This led me to ask myself, “Will Christmas still come even if we don’t receive presents?”
Christmas is an important Christian holiday celebrating the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. But what Christmas has become has completely redirected the purpose of the holiday. It has been commercialized. After all, we kick off the start of the Christmas season with a whole weekend dedicated to sales: starting with Black Friday and finishing with Cyber Monday. A survey of 2,000 families in 2014 showed that a third of children between the ages ten and thirteen did not link Christmas with the birth of Jesus Christ. This poll also discovered that only ten percent of adults can correctly state four facts about Jesus’ birth. Even worse, 51% of those surveyed say they do not believe Jesus is important to Christmas. We can infer from this that Santa steals the focus away from our Lord.
That scene in the TV show my brother was watching encourages the idea that without presents, there is no Christmas. It’s not that Santa Claus and the giving of presents is a bad thing- it’s just that we have let that replace Jesus as the center of Christmas. It has distracted us from the real meaning so much that suddenly Jesus isn’t in the picture at all. But our Lord has been here before Santa and He will remain after Santa comes to pass. Jesus is more important than any presents Santa might bring.
I think we all can use a reminder of the real meaning of Christmas. It is so easy to get wrapped up in the hustle of shopping for the perfect present for our family and friends. Howver, we must remember that Christmas is for us to spend time with our family and rejoice in our faith- and the presents we receive are a fun addition, not the focal point. Christmas means so much more than an opportunity to get that new iPhone or designer bag. I hope that on Christmas morning, after you open your gifts, you remember the true gift we received a long time ago- Jesus Christ.
It is always an exciting time for pop music! There is an abundance of new music climbing the charts on iTunes. Adele sits at the top of the charts with her new ballad, “Hello,” her first single in four years. Justin Bieber has made a comeback with his three top ten singles, “Sorry,” “What Do You Mean” and “I’ll Show You” from his upcoming album Purpose. One Direction’s “History” is in the top twenty, featuring acoustic guitar, hand claps, and fans that assisted with the background vocals. “Perfect” and “Drag Me Down” are also popular singles. “On My Mind” by Ellie Goulding is at number 9, followed by “Stitches” by Shawn Mendes at number 10. Taylor Swift sits at number 13 with the pop ballad “Wildest Dreams.” Alessia Cara’s slow “Here”- an anthem for people ‘who secretly hate parties’- along with her debut album Know-It-All are both rising in the charts. “Focus,” Ariana Grande’s new single, sits around number 20,
Ellie Goulding, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, Sara Bareilles, and 5 Seconds of Summer all recently released new albums. The top three albums in pop music are Purpose by Justin Bieber, 25 by Adele and Made In The A.M. by One Direction, and they are all available for pre-order. Despite being released over a year ago, Taylor Swift’s 1989 is still hovers at number 10 on top pop albums.