What is Befana:
The Befana or Epiphany is the arrival of the Three Kings with their
gifts on January 6th. Over the years, I sent a little girl who lived in
the United States some of the Michelangeli frogs. She will now soon be
a mother and the frogs will be bequeathed to a newborn child. The
story was written for the little girl many years ago.
Once upon a time – stories always start that way – once upon a time,
but not so very long ago, there was a city that sat on top of a cliff.
Like this one.
Most of the houses were very small and built of stone, and the stones
had seen children born and grow and become mothers and fathers and
grandmothers and grandfathers. People in this town stayed put. They
loved to watch the clouds pass and build up and the lightening play
among the neighboring hilltops. They waited each spring for the
swallows to come and then for the fields around to turn green to gold
with wheat. They knew that October meant grapes – and chestnuts that
were roasted over the fire and turned black outside, but stayed sweet
Now in this town there lived a man who had three daughters – he loved
his daughters and he loved animals. So one day he decided to make some
cats to keep them company. And then he made some dogs –and some
elephants – and some frogs – you name the animal and he made it.
During the day these animals make believe they are made of wood, but
at night when no one is looking they start telling each other about
what they saw during the day. The cats don’t say much – cats after all
are not like dogs and keep to themselves. And the owls too, they were
all wise old owls who sat on their perches or branches and the more
they saw the less they spoke, and the less they spoke the more they
heard, and they became wiser and wiser. But there were also the family
of frogs and they made more noise than anyone else – and believe it or
not they didn’t croak – that’s what grownups will tell you frogs do –
they chirped and whistled and trilled and burbled. Can you do that
too? Try and let me hear.
They hopped around to see what was going on – jumped on the back of
the dog for a ride, had fun with the cat who tried to catch them, but
to no avail. There were big frogs and little frogs, green frogs and
brown frogs. And one day a couple of the frogs jumped into a plastic
bubble bag and flew across the ocean (they could have swum, but it
would have taken them a lot longer).
Soon they arrived at a house where there was a little girl named
Charlotte. They hoped she knew they were her special friends, and they
liked it so much they decided to send for their brothers and sisters –
until Charlotte found she had a whole family of frogs who kept her
company when her daddy and mommy had problems and worries to take care
of – and they made Charlotte happy and made her laugh – and this made
her mommy and daddy forget their worries and laugh with her and you
could almost feel the rays of love which went from one person to the
other until they were all just one big happy family laughing with the