Kate West (left) and Dina Gregory baking with La Befana.

In ancient Italian folklore, legend has it that an old woman called La Befana flies from house to house leaving toys for good children on the twelfth day of Christmas. Inspired to share this beloved tradition that she celebrated as a child, Kate West wrote a children’s book titled La Befana and The Star, adding a modern culinary twist to the legend: when La Befana sees a beautiful star in the sky — the Christmas Star — she is moved to bake and deliver star-shaped cookies. She bakes so much love into the cookies that whoever takes a bite also feels a glow of love and joy from within. 

Today, West and Dina Gregory, a writer, speaker and “community catalyst,” bring La Befana’s magic to life through their organization La Befana and Friends. Its first charitable project, 12 Days of Crazy Love, aims to raise money for those in need while spreading joy with delicious cookies in the spirit of La Befana herself.

“We’re re-imagining La Befana — this ancient character, this heroine — for the modern moment. This old lady is not a superhero, she’s not able to save the world on her own, so she’s getting families involved to help her. She saves the world with others,” Gregory said. 

For 12 Days of Crazy Love, La Befana and Friends is partnering with DiLena’s Dolcini bakery and NYC Relief to raise $10,000 and deliver 10,000 cookies. For every dollar raised, a star-shaped cookie will be delivered to someone in need of a smile.

“The fundraiser is to get people involved in a similar way to how La Befana shares her heart,” West said. “It’s about meeting the moment and each other with curiosity, openness and love.”

During these challenging times, it can be especially difficult to keep our hearts open, and to teach children to do the same. Gregory and West designed 12 Days of Crazy Love to be family-friendly, so children can get involved with their community in a positive way.  

“These are really tough times right now. Using what we have, how can we serve, and what are the needs of this moment? We’re trying to be present to that,” Gregory said. “Kids take this on and it affects them. We don’t want to put the weight of the world on our children’s shoulders, but we want them to feel like they’re a part of it in an age-appropriate way.” 

When families sign up to participate in 12 Days of Crazy Love, they unlock fun daily email “challenges” from La Befana to show children that change can start in the home and radiate outward in a positive ripple effect. Activities include calling a relative and, like La Befana, delivering a sweet treat to someone who could use a reason to smile. It’s a reminder that making a positive impact doesn’t have to be on a large scale, and a simple act of kindness can go a long way.

“It’s not just a cookie,” Gregory said. “It shows that there is sweetness in life.”

La Befana with members of the National Guard in New York City.

12 Days of Crazy Love will culminate in an interactive virtual event on January 5 involving professional chefs, lots of cookies, and of course, La Befana herself in her magic kitchen. Community members and fundraiser participants are invited to celebrate the joy they spread during 12 Days of Crazy Love and to experience the La Befana tradition together.

“Every day is a magical, favorite moment when people come in contact with La Befana,” West said.

How You Can Help:

  1. Go to La Befana and Friends’ 12 Days of Crazy Love page and click “Take the Challenge” to create a fundraising page 
  2. Share your page with family, friends and followers, and invite them to participate (use the hashtag #12DaysOfCrazyLove when you post!)
  3. Check your email for updates and fun daily challenges from La Befana
  4. Celebrate with La Befana and Friends at a virtual Epiphany celebration on January 5!

 

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