Thursday, January 6, 2011

On Epiphanies

Please note: Vito Colucci had technical difficulties and wasn't able to get online yesterday to answere questions. We will attempt to get you his answers to your questions and post tomorrow or Saturday.
ROSEMARY: Okay, I always feel much more Italian around the holidays - don't ask - years of cannoli cream coursing through my veins every December can never be totally erased and I wouldn't want them to be. Today is Little Christmas or
The Feast of the Epiphany. Buona Festa!

This from - The Feast of the Epiphany celebrated January 6 with a national holiday in Italy, and the tradition of La Befana are a big part of Italian Christmas celebrations. Epiphany commemorates the 12th day of Christmas when the three Wise Men arrived at the manger bearing gifts for Baby Jesus. The traditional Christmas holiday season in Italy lasts through Epiphany.

La Befana
Italy's traditional celebration includes the tale of a witch known as La Befana who arrives on her broomstick during the night of January 5 and fills the stockings with toys and sweets for the good children and lumps of coal for the bad ones.

According to the legend, the night before the Wise Men arrived at the manger they stopped at the shack of an old woman to ask directions. They invited her to come along but she replied that she was too busy. Then a shepherd asked her to join him but again she refused. Later that night, she saw a great light in the sky and decided to join the Wise Men and the shepherd bearing gifts that had belonged to her child who had died. She got lost and never found the manger.

Now La Befana flies around on her broomstick each year on the 11th night, bringing gifts to children in hopes that she might find the Baby Jesus. Children hang their stockings on the evening of January 5 awaiting the visit of La Befana.

Another version of this story has her shooing them out with her broomstick because she was too busy...but then she felt sorry, hence the belated gifts. This also explains the origin of the Kitchen Witch.

What this has to do with epiphanies I'm sure I don't know, but I've always loved the holiday and the word, perhaps because according to family legend it was the first ten dollar word I ever uttered (maybe I was three) at which point the family decided I was a genius, an appellation I've been comfortable with ever since.

My latest epiphany? We'll see just how long this lasts but - It's my damn book and I can do whatever I like. Of course, my editor is in Australia and she may have other ideas, but for now I'm running with it.

What's your latest epiphany?

JAN: I'm always more Polish around the holidays too. Especially when I serve Kielbasa. The Polish tradition is to wait until the Epiphany to take down the Christmas tree, although I don't think I'll make it this year -- we got it early and the needles are making me crazy.

My epiphany this year? Maybe I'm more of a journalist after all.

HANK: OH, so interesting Ro. My epiphany-okay, don't laugh. Is that it's not all about me. People make decisions for reasons that have nothing to do with me. And as a result, so what! It's very freeing.

And everyone is fighting a battle, as the now-ubiquitous Plautus saying goes. So I'm going to be kinder. And worry less. Everything will be fine, so I don't have to try to control the universe.

HALLIE: Hank, (can't help it, I'm laughing) I'm with you. My epiphany, like yours, is that everyone who disagrees with me isn''s coming it's coming...stupid. Misguided, yes. Woefully ignorant no doubt. Blind perhaps. But not plain dumb. I have yet to figure out how to put this particular insight to work, but I will.

ROSEMARY: I love this. I'm doubled over laughing. What will Roberta make of all this?

ROBERTA: I'm laughing too, because what's changed??? We all knew all of that anyway, we just have to learn the same dang lessons over and over:). I think that means there will be Jungle Red Writers in the next life too...

RHYS: in my family we've started a new epiphany tradition-- because we can't celebrate on Christmas Day with both sets of grandchildren we have a 12th night feast and exchange little gifts then. But I'm still hoping for my own epiphany. I am willing myself to realise that bestsellerdom isn't really important, and that I don't need to work like crazy.

ROSEMARY: Oh, gosh...and if you all believe probably still believe in La Befana!! Buona Festa! What's your epiphany?


  1. There seems to be a thread here. I'd say mine is, "not everybody is going to like you (or your books), and there's not a blessed thing you can do about it."

  2. Sheila, I think that's true about the thread. Huh. What do we all make of it?

  3. Hello and Happy New Year to you Jungle Red women and everyone else who tunes in regularly.

    My epiphany this January is that when I slow down, I get more done.

    My schedule tends to be overloaded, especially during the holiday season. This first work week of the new year has felt sane and productive because I'm (mostly) going in one direction, not six.

    Hope to hang on to this insight throughout 2011.

    Brenda B. in Maine

  4. Buona Festa!

    I’m not Italian (English, Irish and German heritage) but married to one. Since I was little girl, my family has always celebrated the 12 days of Christmas. The tree went up on Christmas Eve and we took it down on January 6th just in time to celebrate my little sister’s birthday on the 7th.

    An epiphany? I guess mine would be I’ll let myself write what I want to write more often. Since I have no control on what editors want, what readers want, or the characters who pop into my head and want their story told, I’ll enjoy my writing. If the story sells fine, if not, I’ll find a contest for it or post it in my short story memoirs.

    So much for my epiphany, now I’m going back to struggle with that story I’m writing to fit the market.

  5. Brenda and Pat and Sheila--those thoughts are so smart! May we all learn them this year....

  6. My latest epiphany is that I worked more, played more and was happier more, when I had a dog.

  7. True...not everyone will like our books, but that's okay, there are plenty of books that I don't like either - so it works out. ;-)

  8. I love these epiphanies! I can't think of any good ones other than agreeing with "everybody is fighting something, so be nice to them."

    Unless maybe it's: When you threaten to buy the new (can-it-possibly-work?) bathroom-scrubbing robot for $300, the person you share the house with will scrub the bathroom for free the next day. (He claims he doesn't see how grungy it gets...)

    Happy la Befana!


  9. Brenda - how interesting! My corollary to that is: when I have a deadline I get more done. Can you give YOURSELF a deadline? Sadly, it's not the same.

  10. Pat,
    I love your epiphany - which is what I've decided to do and hang the rest of it.

    And Brenda, I'm with Hallie, I get more done, actually, when I'm busy.

    But I think the bottom line to all of this is that we have to accept who we are and how we write. I have to accept I write, very, very, very, slowly.

    Rhys, I love your new 12th day Christmas tradition and may have to steal it when I ever get grandchildren.

  11. A Twelfth Night tradition in my family since my childhood is to throw a small branch of the tree into the fire and make a wish for the coming year. Now as soon as the holiday season begins my local grandchild wants to burn a branch. He was delighted last night. I've also heard it's bad luck to leave your decorations up after Epiphany--got to get that wreath off the front door.