The Christmas Witch: La Befana

Sorry, sorry, sorry.

I’m such a bad girl. I owe you demons. I had to take a little break. Stuff happens.

To make up for my horribleness, watch for something special in February–yes, that’s right, it’s another ZOMBIE MONTH!!! With prizes this time! It will be worth checking out this blog every day…

For now, a post I’ve been saving for TWO YEARS. Finally, the time is right for La Befana.

La Befana, Christmas Storytelling, Italy Pavil...

Image by Fraochsidhe via Flickr

There are parts of Italy where Santa Claus doesn’t visit. Instead, a crone of a witch brings presents on Epiphany, January 5, the traditional day the Wise Men showed with their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

The witch’s name is La Befana. The story goes that on their way to find Baby Jesus, the Magi stopped at this witch’s house for refreshment, and discovering that she was a fellow wise person, they invited her to come along. She said she was too busy, but later received a revelation that she needed to go give the baby presents too.

She ran after the Magi, but never caught up. She never found Jesus either, so now she gives gifts to all children on Epiphany, to make up for her mistake.


Dorothy Gladys Spicer, Festivals of Western Europe, Forgotten Books, 1973


Vampires we know and love #7: Civateteo

Think vampires are all the same? Think again! Vampires come in more flavors than Baskin-Robbins ice cream. So, this special DotW feature, Vampires we know and love, spotlights different kinds of bloodsucking fiends from around the world.


Hmmm… Okay, one of my ultra-reliable standard sources, Guiley, says that the civateteo are Mexican vampire witches, noblewomen who died in childbirth and return to attack other children in revenge.

But Wikipedia and other sources say that the civateteo (Cihuateteo, Ciuteoteo, Ciuateoteo or Civateteo; singular Ciuateotl or Cihuateotl) go back way further. The Aztecs considered childbirth a form of battle, and those who were lost in the war became revered warrior spirits who accompanied the setting sun. Revered, sure, but also feared, these women spirits came back to hurt children, cause disease, and seduce men.

Is it possible that the Aztec legend survived all this time and morphed (like a were-legend) into this other form? There are enough similarities to make a real case for it.