Who or What is La Befana?

According to Italian traditions, the three wise men knocked on the door of an old witch-lady and asked her for directions to Bethlehem. They told her about the birth of baby Jesus, and asked her to go with them. She told them that she was too busy.

Later, some shepherds knocked her door and asked for directions. They also invited her to go with them, and again she said she was too busy. Later still, she saw a beautiful light in the sky and regretted not going with the wise men or shepherds. She decided to go after them, and so she packed up some presents that had belonged to her own baby who had died, and she went to find this special baby.

However, she lost her way and never did make it to Bethlehem to see Jesus. Italians say that she is still looking for him. On the 11th night (5th January) she flies around on her broomstick searching for baby Jesus. Every time she passes a house with children, she slides down the chimney and leaves presents in their stockings, just in case he is in that house.

la befana - an Italian witch on her broomstick

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REsources – Part 2 (Christmas resources)

selection of children's books about ChristmasChristmas is another tricky time of year – most children know the nativity story by the time they start school but I found some fantastic books, suitable for KS1, which tell the story with a twist. The Grumpy Shepherd tells the story of Christmas from the point of view of Joram, a shepherd who is always moaning about something – sheep are boring and his job is too hard – until an angel appears with news of a very special baby.  Jesus’ Christmas Party tells the story from the point of view of an inn-keeper who gets very cross when his sleep is disturbed first by a man and his pregnant wife wanting someone to stay, and then by a bright star shining through his window. He gets crosser and crosser as he is woken by shepherds and kings looking for a baby, but then he meets the baby for himself. Finally A Christmas Story tells the story of a young girl and a baby donkey who follow Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, meeting angels and shepherds and kings along the way.

For older children, I have found this Advent wreath game a great resource. I have used it in the last week of the Autumn term, when the children don’t want to do any work because it’s nearly Christmas, and by the end of the game the children are able to explain clearly what an advent wreath is for, how it is used and what each part represents. Although it’s quite a simple game, Years 5 and 6 really got into it, and enjoyed it so much they asked if I would leave it in their classroom so that they could play it again later.

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Related post: REsources – Part 1 (General Resources)