La Befana Christmas Ministering Message
Every year I set a goal to look at Christmas in an entirely new way. I usually focus on individuals in the scriptures who were involved in the birth of Christ. But this year I decided to focus on someone much less canonical. So I wrote a La Befana Christmas Ministering Message with some of the lessons La Befana has taught me.
Included below is the Christmas ministering message, a printable, and a cute Christmas ornament idea that goes with the message.
Christmas Ministering Message – La Befana
In Italy, they celebrate the coming of La Befana on January 6th or Three Kings’ Day. She is a kind of Santa Claus, coming down the chimney and leaving treats and gifts in the children’s stockings. It is a tradition that dates back to the 13th century.
I first heard the story from my husband’s family. Every Christmas Eve they read Tomie DePaola’s book adaption of the legend by candlelight. We have since picked up the tradition in our family. There are many versions of the story, but this is the one told by Tomie dePaola.
The Legend of La Befana
La Befana was an old, lonely woman who took meticulous care of her home. She had a reputation for being unfriendly, and she didn’t like children.
One day she was approached by the Wise Men on their way to find the Christ child. They asked her for directions, but she didn’t know who Christ was. Before leaving, one of the boys traveling with their caravan invited her to come on their journey with them. He explained that Christ was a Baby King sent to change the world. But La Befana was too busy taking care of her house and continued to sweep.
However, as La Befana thought about it, she changed her mind. She decided to bake treats to bring to the Newborn King, and she spent the day cooking. Once she was done, she decided to sweep her house before she left. As she packed to leave, she took the treats and her broom. She wanted to sweep the room of the baby Jesus, knowing that His mother would tired.
Unfortunately, by the time she left, it was too late. She started to run to catch up and she ran long into the night. Finally she was too exhausted to continue, and she sat down on the side of the road disheartened. She worried that she would never catch up.
As she rested, she saw a choir of angels singing – announcing the birth of the Newborn King. La Befana asked them where He was and got back on her feet. She started to run again, and she pled for help. Suddenly she started to feel lighter and soon she was running so fast that she took flight. But she never did catch up.
The legend is that centuries later she is still searching for the Christ child. Every year, on the Feast of the Three Kings, she runs across the sky and visits children while they sleep. She sweeps their rooms and leaves gifts from her basket. La Befana explains, “For, after all, I never know which child might be the Baby King of Bethlehem.”
What La Befana Teaches Us About Christmas
I love reading about La Befana every year because she teaches me a lot about Christmas. Here are a few of the lessons I have learned.
The Dangers Of One More Thing
La Befana was so occupied with having things just so that she missed out on the opportunity to find Christ. Her intentions were good. She wanted to bring gifts to the Christ child and help His mother by sweeping. She also wanted to leave her own house clean. But she was so busy with the little things that she missed the invitation to find Christ.
We can’t judge her because our Christmases often look the same way. Distracted by decorations, baking, events, and the quest for perfection, we end up exhausted and overwhelmed. We all feel a little like La Befana as we frantically run in pursuit of Christmas.
In contrast, in the New Testament Simeon was a devout man who had the Holy Ghost upon him. He was waiting for Christ instead of making Christ wait for him. When the spirit led him to the temple, he did not delay. As a result, he was able to hold the Baby Jesus in his arms and testify of the Messiah.
We can avoid getting lost in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season by remembering the dangers of getting caught up in ‘one more thing.’ Like La Befana, let us not be so occupied with the trivial details that we miss the profound invitations to find Christ in our lives.
It Is Never Too Late To Follow Christ
What I love about La Befana is that she doesn’t give up. She missed the first invitation, she gets a late start, and she is exhausted, but she doesn’t give up. She is willing to get back up and keep going.
Sometimes I hit Christmas Eve and realize all the opportunities I have missed to focus on Christ. I am exhausted and feel like I have blown it. But La Befana doesn’t give up, even at the very end. She keeps coming back every year looking for Christ. With her broom she sweeps away all the mistakes from the past year and starts the new year clean.
Just as La Befana never gives up, we too can recognize that it is never too late to turn our attention to the true meaning of Christmas. And as we pray for help, we can also feel lighter and receive help in our pursuit. Despite our late starts and moments of exhaustion, we can follow La Befana’s example and sweep out past mistakes, embracing the opportunity to start anew each year.
As it says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
Can You Find Christ In My Home?
Every year La Befana visits each home hoping to find the Christ child. If she were to visit my home, would she find Christ there? Is my Christmas so full of shopping, gifts, and Santa Claus that you can hardly tell I am celebrating the birth of Christ? Or is my home full of pictures of Christ? Do I take time to celebrate and reflect on the nativity? Is the spirit in my home testifying of Christ?
The Way to Christ Looks Like Service
A remarkable thing happens when we are searching for Christ, the path to Him always looks like service. As La Befana visits each house trying to serve Christ, she instead serves all she visits. When we look for Christ, service to others is always the collateral benefit. As Elder José A. Teixeira shared in last year’s Christmas Devotional, “Re-centering our focus on Christ during Christmas will provide us a more significant measure of His love in our lives and a greater capacity to love and serve others around us.”
May this Christmas be a season of rekindled focus, genuine service, and the profound joy of finding Christ in our celebrations. In the spirit of La Befana, may we sweep out the unnecessary distractions, leaving room for in our homes for the true spirit of Christmas.
La Befana Christmas Ministering Printable
La Befana Christmas Ministering Message Printable Sheet (8.5×11 – 12 two-inch circles to a sheet)
These are designed to be cut out as two inch circles using a circle punch. You can add them to the broom ornament. The background of the printable is white, but I like to print these out on cardstock that has a warm color and texture.
La Befana Broom Ornaments
If I could have my wish, I would love an original La Befana ornament from Italy. But I can’t just hop over to Italy. So I came up with some alternatives.
The simplest one is to use the La Befana circles I made above to put on whatever treat you want to take over. If you minister to a family with kids, this is a really cute broom treat bag you can make to put the tag on. Instead of candy corn, fill it with Christmas candy. Or if you want to be really authentic, you can fill it with candy coal!
And if you love to craft over Christmas, you can make your own La Befana broom ornament. I scavenged for some good sticks while on a walk with my kids. Then I used raffia to make the bottom. I added a red flannel tie to match the red head scarf worn by La Befana. Then I finished it up with a wood slice ornament.
I like having an ornament every year that reminds me of what I have learned over past Christmases. So this will be joining the crown, shepherds, wood slice nativity, and manger ornaments. It will remind me to sweep away all the unnecessary things that are keeping me from finding Christ.
Since some of the people we minister to have children and grandchildren, I also bought them The Legend of Old Befana by Tomie dePaola. The illustrations are beautiful and my children love the book. You can even see the book read out loud. There are so many fun ways to get creative with this one.
Learning More About La Befana
The version of the story that I used was the one from the book by Tomie dePaola. But there are lots of other versions as well, along with fun and beautiful traditions. If you want to learn more, you can visit:
Did you like this December’s La Befana Christmas Ministering Message? Find more Relief Society Ministering Printables for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
These ministering printables are a great way to help families incorporate the “Come, Follow Me” lessons into their own study. They are also perfect for Young Women’s, Relief Society, Sunday School, or Family Home Evening. I hope that these ministering printables will be a simple way to reach out to those we minister to.