Shelved Dolls: La Befana – The Female Santa Claus

Incidentally – how did you find out that Santa Claus was not real? Don’t say “by reading this article, Jennifer” because . . . Actually, I like to believe TheGloss has a certain precocious baby readership, so, good work getting your tiny fingers to land on the correct keys, kiddo. I’ll try to be more respectful of your fist sized baby brain going forward.

I found out when I was at some Christmas party with my mother. She was talking to an (admittedly insensitive) friend who leaned down to little me and said, “What do you want Santa to give you?” and I listed, I don’t know, twenty items, probably a great many of them dolls that looked like monsters. And then, when I had finished my litany, the woman stood up and said to my mother, “I think one of the worst days in childhood is when you find out there is no Santa Claus.”

Yeah lady, it was.

But that is neither here nor there.

The fact is, yes, Gloss readers, La Befana is real.

She is our first living Shelved Doll.

Would you like to know what she looks like? Would you like to see a photograph of her?

la befanaThat is her. She is real. She and her sisters hang out together.

Don’t say her face is made out of plastic; that is just Botox. That is La Befana being a lady who is concerned about her general appearance.

Apparently, in Venice, on January 6th,  men dress as La Befana and race in boats on the Grand Canal.

You know, while one of my favorite cities, Venice doesn’t even make sense. Everything there is sort of wonderfully weird, which was well detailed by Jeanette Winterson in The Passion and Italo Calvino in Invisible Cities, either one of which, or both, would make a good last minute Chistmas gift for the traveler in your family. If I were even halfway decent at learning foreign languages, and I could stand the idea of living anyplace but New York, I’d move to Venice in a minute.

There are men cross-dressing as a holiday crone who rides around on a broomstick while racing boats, there.

But why does such an elegant and shiny woman have a broom you might ask?

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    • Amy

      “I like to believe TheGloss has a certain precocious baby readership.”

      HA! Another great shelved doll article. Love your work! I adored the one about badass Julie d’Aubigny and her shenannigans. Are there any famous lady pirates you could write about?

      • Matthew McVeagh

        There was a female leader of Chinese pirates who was very powerful. Not well-known in the west but maybe Jennifer could write about her.

    • Samantha

      I teared up when I read the ending of this story. Shelved Dolls is always awesome, but this one feels particularly timely and lovely.

    • Katie

      Can we make this into an awesome holiday on like January 5 or 6? Where we clean our houses and than at night drink wine, and eat regional specialties and brownies in honor of La Befana? I think this is going to become a thing at my house. La Befana Day!