The Desperate Expat Wife isn’t superfond of Christmas markets. Simply because they can make her – well – slightly desperate.
Sure, they’re cute enough – tacky cute at times but still cute – and this part of Europe wouldn’t be the same without them. Oh, and she loves the chocolate covered raspberries. Now she’s actually not particularly desperate at Christmas time, but fighting her way through blinking lights and jolly Christmas music and a glühwein-drinking gromperekichelcher-eating crowd might just do the trick.
Yet sometimes the Christmas market is quiet, maybe not peaceful, but quiet, and on one of those quiet days she somewhat absent-mindedly strolled by the stands when an object caught the corner of her eye. In its silvery simplicity, it stood out from the rest of the blinking plastic fantastic assortment as Cinderella from her ugly stepsisters.
The belle of the ball was a slim silver bell with a clear, crisp sound. As the belle changed hands, the elderly lady who wrapped her up carefully felt the need to express her joy that this was a true Italian beauty, not one made in China like her plastic fantastic mates.
Now the lady had recently visited China for the first time, and what an experience it had been, very different indeed, and she had especially noticed how society was adapted for wheelchair users and the blind. But still, the silver bell had been made by artisans in a tiny town in Northern Italy, which made her more special than her Chinese sisters.
The Desperate Expat Wife took the bell home and thought about what the lady at the Christmas market had said. She tried to google China + physically disabled friendly without much result, or rather reports of the opposite. Then she tried to google Christmas bell production in Northern Italy. Not very fruitful either. She even tried in Italian. Campane di Natale.
That is when she found the legend of the Christmas bell, coincidentally featuring a blind child.
La leggenda delle campane di Natale
As the shepherds were flocking to Bethlehem to meet the newborn king, they passed by a little child sitting on the side of the road. The child was blind. Upon hearing the angels announcing the birth, the child begged every passer-by to take him to baby Jesus. But they didn’t have time for him.
When they had all passed and the roads were quiet again, the child heard in the distance the faint ringing of a cowbell. He thought to himself that the cow might be in the stable where Christ was born, and then he followed the ringing of the bell to the stable. The cow saw the blind child and led him to the manger where baby Jesus lay.
And so the legend goes.
Why not be that cow this Christmas, give somebody in need a helping hoof.
Buon Natale a tutti!
Text by Unni Holtedahl, Christmas 2014. Photos by Lisbeth Ganer and Unni Holtedahl.