Wednesday, 5 January 2022

The end of Christmas.

My Spanish niece has been posting photos of her children with the Reyes Magos, aka the three kings, in just the same way as people in the UK post photos of their children with Santa Claus. Traditionally Spanish children should be going to bed early tonight to be sure that the kings can leave presents for them. Do Spanish children ever really go to bed early? Everything is relative. 

In some cases Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar will leave presents on balconies, something which has always struck me as quite logical. Otherwise, like Santa, they have a magic key that allows them to enter every home. Hmmm! Are they ever tempted to do a bit of wealth distribution while they’re at it, taking from the rich and giving to the poor, Robin Hood style? I wonder.

In Italy a similar thing will be going on, this time waiting for La Befana, a sort of good witch. Here’s one version of her story:

“The legend of La Befana - An origin story as old as Christmas

There’s a specific tale with mostly subtle variations relating to Befana’s connection to the Three Kings of the Epiphany, which actually explains the broom. 

According to the legend, Befana was in her cottage sweeping the floor when she glanced out of the window and saw a bright light in the night sky. She paused to behold it but then returned to her work as she was devoted to being a good housekeeper. Soon after the star appeared, she was paid a visit by the Three Kings, which, as you can imagine, took her quite by surprise! It seems they had wandered far from their path toward the humble stable in Bethlehem. They asked Befana for directions, told her they were following the star at the advice of royal astrologers and were intent on bringing gifts to honor the babe. 

Befana declined their invitation to join them on their journey as she was too reluctant to leave her work unfinished. She did provide the kings with shelter for the night. After they set out the next day, she had a change of heart. She ran after them with her broom and her basket of small gifts for the holy child but failed to catch up with their entourage.”

And that will be that: Christmas will be officially over for another year. Time to take the tree down, pack the lights away, and decide what to do  all the Christmas cards. Some people have done so already. The across the road neighbours took their tree down at the weekend and at some point on Monday they dodged rain showers and removed the multitude of baubles that were adorning just about every bush in their garden. Mind you they put all the decorations up really early so I suppose they must be fed up of vacuuming up pine needles.

I described my fun and games with bread rolls in the microwave the other day. Well, it could have been worse. It could have been Christmas Day. Guardian columnist Zoe Williams describes how an exploding beer keg sprayed over their Christmas meal. My adventure with the microwave pales into insignificance!

“We had one domestic accident, at the signature Christmas meal, when the table was set for 15, which meant 15 crackers, and – you won’t believe it, but it’s true – 30 glasses, and everything else. Mr Z decided that he wanted beer instead of a regular Christmas drink, but none of the perfectly serviceable bottles of beer would do. Instead, he tried this mini-keg that we’ve had under a table lamp since July, and it exploded. Most of the beer, he claims, ended up in his trousers, but that doesn’t explain how we came to be mopping the ceiling, or that every glass contained a tablespoon of beer, as if I’d laid the table for tiny Vikings, or how the crackers lost their bang, or why the room still smells like a pub a week later which, actually, I don’t mind. All I could think was, oh my, that could have been so much worse. “

If the weather stays as it is now the Reyes Magos and the Befana will have good delivery conditions tonight. It’s blue sky and sunshine again here but very cold. Any nocturnal delivery people need to wrap up warm! 

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

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