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The James T. Callow Folklore Archive

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ITALIAN SANTA CLAUS

THE BEFANA IS AN OLD WOMAN WHO WAS SWEEPING OUT
HER HOUSE ONE DAY WHEN THE THREE WISE MEN PASSED BY ON THEIR
WAY TO SEE THE CHRIST CHILD. SHE TOLD THEM TO WAIT UNTIL
SHE FINISHED HER SWEEPING SO THAT SHE COULD GO WITH THEM.
SHE FINISHED THE WORK AND GOT TOGETHER SOME FRUIT AND
CANDY BUT WHEN SHE WENT OUTSIDE THE MEN WERE ALREADY GONE.
AND NOW SHE ROAMS THE EARTH ON EVERY LITTLE CHRISTMAS LOOKING
FOR THE CHRIST CHILD AND GIVING FRUIT AND CANDY TO ALL LITTLE
CHILDREN ON THAT NIGHT. BAD CHILDREN RECEIVE COAL IN THEIR
STOCKING.
MY MOTHER SAYS THAT IN HER FAMILY THE BEFANA WOULD
COME AND THROW NUTS DOWN THE CHIMNEY TO WARN THE
KIDS TO BE GOOD BECAUSE SHE WAS COMING. THEN STOCKINGS WOULD
BE HUNG AND THE NEXT MORNING, THEY WOULD BE FILLED WITH
FRUIT AND COOKIES.
IN OTHER FAMILIES, THE CHILDREN WOULD ALL KNEEL AROUND
THE FIREPLACE AND PRAY WITH THEIR WHOLE HEART AND SOUL FOR
THE BEFANA TO COME. AND ONE BY ONE BASKERS FULL OF FRUIT
AND CANDY WITH EACH CHILD'S NAME IN IT WOULD COME DOWN.
IN THESE FAMILIES, THERE WERE NO STOCKINGS THEN.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT ; COLLECTED AT HOME

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Santa Claus
BELIEF -- Prayer P642.64

Date learned: 11-02-1969

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