“La Befana” always comes at night

“La Befana vien di notte
con le scarpe tutte rotte
con le toppe alla sottana:
Viva, viva la Befana!”


(“Old Befana comes by night 
with her shoes from first twilight 
with some patches on her skirt 
Giving charcoal to naughty kids”)

The “Befana” traditionally comes the night of between the 5th and 6th of January. She is that old scary witch, who flies on a broom to reward with candies the children who have been good and punish the naughty ones giving them only just charcoal – well, sugar charcoal -. She usually leaves the gifts in the old sock, children leave hanging near their beds. Just like Santa, when we were kids, we used to stay awake till late, as we wanted to catch a glimpse of the horrible sinister woman, till exhausted, we fell asleep and so our parents could fill our socks.

Of course the morning we looked forward to seeing our treats and woke up early. Well, you have to know that this is exactly what I keep doing these days: I go to bed late at night and wake up early in the morning in all excitement to look for my surprise. Why? At my age am I still hoping to receive my deserved candies -as I know I’ve been extremely good and patient this year-? Nope. The treat I seek every day is named DPCM:  the Decree of the President of the Council of Ministers. Such decrees are usually issued every couple of weeks, but in between, there the amendments of the amendments of the last DPCM which update the DPCM before. Our ministers are in the strange habit of meeting at night and only when it is dawn, like the Befana, they spread their treats. That’s why every morning as soon as I wake up, I grab my sock, sorry, my smartphone and if I see 276 WhatsApp messages, I understand before reading them that the treat has arrived.

To cut a long story short, till last night, we, high school teachers didn’t know when, if, how we would go back to school. During those days of uncertainties, we found ourselves doing the most unbelievable actions like: joining remote meetings during festivities and even asking form more, planning the most disruptive demonstrations and dropping the most disruptive demonstrations, fighting over new schedules according the guidelines of the last DPCM to find out that it was all eventually useless. We could have spent all this time, reading, cooking, redecorating, writing and whatever more, as this morning the Befana broke with the news that it is still unsafe for high school students to be in presence, event 50% presence.

Well, “you may go to sleep now, Tink”, I guess you  would think. Not exactly, as there is the issue of the traffic light. Yes, the traffic light, that stuff with yellow, green and red lights. Yesterday night’s decision is only temporary: till next Monday. Now it is to be decided, what colour the 20 Italian regions are, according to the Covid data from the scientific technical committee. GREEN means GO: go to school, work, normal life; YELLOW/ORANGE, well, I know that abroad yellow means slow down and stop, but for us yellow sounds more like go as fast as you can, before it turns RED, hence, if we are in a yellow zone we may go back to school, normal life  etc. yet, with some restrictions, so we have to do quickly what is needed as it might turn RED in a second. When you live in a RED area, well, you’d better subscribe Netflix as you are locked in.

Hence, here we are, our destiny will be determined by a color and then another color till this Covid question will come to an end and we could go back to normal. What a treat that  would be, my dear Befana.


15 thoughts on ““La Befana” always comes at night

  1. I’m not liking that “liked” gets clicked automatically when I visit a site. For instance, it doesn’t sound like I just read good news. It looks like you are in the yellow zone? (my Italian geography is a bit rusty, but I think Rome is in the swollen belly of the boot, right?)

    Anyway, none of it sounds good . . .

    Side note . . . that translation seems off . . . shouldn’t it be something like (without the rhyme?):
    La Befana comes at night
    with ragged shoes
    and a tattered petticoat:
    Long live the Befana!

    Is rhyming more pertinent than content?

    • I went for rhyming but your content is perfect. As for the colour, Lazio, my region , has been mostly yellow but also orange and red certain days, like today and tomorrow. Yet, I don’t trust these figures. Political issues want my region yellow, but the truth, and I had the “priviledge” to bump into the truth, is different. That is why we are squabbling over the return to school. It is not safe and they did nothing to make it so.

    • One suggestion would be — if they say it’s safe and as a sign of support — they need to spend 3-4 hours a day in schools they deemed “safe”.

      It’s not going to happen, but, you know, perhaps the papers could take up that song and ask them to put their bodies where their mouth is.

  2. Oh my Bella, how I miss this Befana! It is interesting that on January 6th, it is also the Orthodox’s Christmas eve.
    Anyway, as I might say here in Germany the colours aren’t clear, (because of the federalism!) and Regina, my wife, doesn’t still know if tomorrow she will go to school or not! 😛
    PS: I myself, if see a yellow/orange light, push the gas pedal!! 😂🥰💖💖

      • Oh yes, she feels also like a queen 😂 though in the school it’s not clear how they should work next week 😏 anyway, I wish you a good luck ❤

  3. The Venetian architect and BBC documentary presenter Francesco da Mosto defines Italian traffic lights thus: green means go, amber means go, and red is … merely a suggestion.

    Our UK government has finally locked down on the highest (so far) tier of restrictions — and that includes schools (though they still haven’t effectively put e-learning in place for all students) — something opposition has been asking them to address since the virus second wave loomed. However incompetent your government is, it’s in competition with our own inept Johnson and his mates. It would be funny if wasn’t so deadly.

    I do sympathise with your situation, Stefy: what educators need, as do their students, is a measure of certainty, along with a sense that hierarchy (school management, education authority, government) is working in partnership, favouring organised learning. That’s not happening now, I suspect, and the constant late managing of crisis is stressful and inimical to effective teaching.

    • Italy and U.K. are neck and neck in Europe these days, but I’d rather not win this competition. Let’s see what they are going to decide this week-end and let’s hope reason wins over politics. Cases are increasing again and I fear this is the beginnning of the third wave. I am tired. 💆💆💆💆🙋🏼

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