Friday, 8 January 2010
January the 6th was Epiphany, or 12th night. In England it means you take down the Christmas tree and all the decorations or you will have bad luck all year. But in Italy it seems to have a much wider significance that mixes pagan and Christian in a very interesting way. It’s not just the anniversary of the arrival of the Magi at Bethlehem, or the descent of the holy ghost, but a public holiday with celebrations and music. Children are given stockings filled with sweets and a witch - La Befana - flies on her broomstick.
We were having a pizza in our local bar when suddenly the door opened and a group of musicians and singers arrived, visiting homes and restaurants like carol singers and playing strange eastern European music. It’s fascinating to live in a place where local traditions are still strong, spontaneous and not just something trotted out for tourists.
Neil did a small video of the music, which I will put up here, though the quality isn't very good because it was filmed in a very dark bar!