Were you naughty or nice? Coal or treats that is the question come the 6th of January in Italy. You just need to see what was left in your stocking to come to some sort of conclusion. I have written a number of posts over the years about the Italian tradition of La Befana, so I thought I might put up some links to blog posts past. Befana is an interesting mixture of what to me seems like Halloween and Christmas. Befana is a kindly old woman or witch on a broomstick who flies everywhere on the night before Epiphany or 12th night as it is also called, and either fills up your stockings, that should have been hung by the chimney with care, with treats or small presents, or you get a lump of coal. Fortunately, for Italian children, the lumps of coal have been transformed into black confections that make for a more more pleasant time taking your lumps of coal in stride.
Here are a few links to previous posts I've posted over the years. some have more of the story of La Befana's origins and others are recipes for dishes designed to serve on a Befana menu.
- "La Befana" has arrived
- "Le Befana" came and went
- Away with la Befana and a Carmelle di pasta per la Befana
Martha over at Go Italy has a great post on the origins of la Befana, that you might enjoy reading.
I also made some cookies this year called La Befana Stars. This version is a departure from the usual anise flavored variety and met with an appreciative round of approval. Unfortunately, I forgot to get a photo of them before they were all given away and eaten right up. Any size star cookie vutter will do. You can make a milk glaze and add sprinkles or just give them a dusting of powdered sugar. This was a great way to use some of my home made limoncello and abundance of lavender from our garden.
Head over to "The Leftover Queen" to check out Jen's version of the La Befana traditional recipe for what are usually anise flavored cut out star cookies. You'll find the recipe in it's entirety.