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Cuicina Molisana -- Epiphany -- Personal Recollections
Originated from: Casacalenda, Campobasso
Occasion: Epiphany
Contributed by: Mary Melfi; image courtesy of the NYPL, Digital Gallery #474221

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Lists of Desserts made for Epiphany

Caragnoli [For recipe see "Fritters"]
Caveciuni or Calcioni [For recipe see "Fritters"]
Screppelle or Scrippelle [For recipe see "Fritters"]
Home-made cookies
Honey-glazed nuts [For recipe see "Nougats"]
Miniature store-bought boxes of Torrone,
Fresh mandarins and/or tangerines



As everyone knows prior to World War II children living in Molise, Italy celebrated "Christmas" not on December 25th but on "January 6th." Back then (according to my mother) it wasn't called Christmas (Natale), but strangely enough it was called "Pasquetta" -- meaning "little Easter" (Pasqua). In any case Italian children weren't expecting Santa Claus to come round and give them presents; they awaited the arrival of "la Befana," an old woman who went around asking who was naughty and who was nice and rewarding the good and punishing the bad. On la Befana's feast day the children were also allowed to take down the Christmas stockings which hung by the fireplace. According to my Zia Rosina who grew up in Italy in the 1930s children found the following treats in their "Christmas stockings: home-made cookies, honey-glazed nuts, miniature store-bought boxes of torrone, mandarins or tangerines and (maybe) a few "liri...." In the 1950s Italians living in North America still considered "la Befana" to be the true Santa Claus but later in the 1970s few second and third generation Italian children gave her a second thought. A jolly old man with a long white beard had stolen their hearts....

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