The Feast of the Epiphany is celebrated January 6 as a national holiday in Italy, and the tradition of La Befana is a large part of Italian Christmas celebrations. Epiphany honors the 12th day of Christmas when the three Wise Men arrived at the crèche bearing gifts for the Christ Child. According to the Italian legend, La Befana, a witch riding a broom, refused to join the Wise Men on their journey to see the baby Jesus. When she regrets her decision, she sets out to bring gifts to the Child but never finds him. Instead, she leaves gifts for other children. Italian children leave out their shoes or put up stockings for the Befana to fill on January 5th, Epiphany Eve. Naughty children receive coal.

For Italians, La Festa dell’Epifania on January 6th is as significant a holiday as Christmas Day. The arrival of la Befana marks the end of the long and festive holiday season in Italy. In honor of the Three Wise Men, Italians go to church and enjoy spending the day with family.

Everyone at the ABCD North End/West End Neighborhood Service Center (NE/WE NSC) got not coal, but rather a sumptuous feast and presents! The center extends heartfelt gratitude to Donato Frattaroli of Il Molo, Nancy Frattaroli of Artu, and Taste of the North End, together with Donato’s wife AnnMarie, the Frattaroli children, and staff.

The hardworking group prepared food for nearly 50 seniors from the neighborhoods, who enjoyed salad, pasta, and chicken cacciatore that consisted of a succulent braise of chicken, aromatic vegetables, and tomatoes. During dessert, the family passed out blushing pink scarves for the ladies and boxes of chocolates for the gentlemen.

Senator Joe Boncore, who arrived with his staff bearing canvas bags for the seniors (there are no more plastic bags given out by stores in Boston!) remarked, “This celebration reminds me of growing up with my Sicilian grandmother. The holiday was an important part of my childhood. I thank the Frattaroli family for all that they do for the North End.”

“The seniors and my staff and volunteers feel such a sense of love and caring with the presence and efforts of the Frattaroli family today,” enthused Maria Stella Gulla, ABCD North End/West End NSC Director. “They have always supported the work that our agency carries out for the seniors and families in our neighborhood. We thank them for organizing our celebration of La Festa dell’Epifania and keeping this tradition alive.”

Without the hard work of the Frattaroli family and staff, the holiday party would not have been possible. The NE/WE NSC gives deepest thanks to them, enabling the center to provide a day of cheer, socialization, and warmth for neighborhood seniors.

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