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News & Events

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Tanti Auguri di Buona Befana! – Jan. 6

Date 01.05.2017

In Italian folklore, Befana is an old woman who delivers gifts to children throughout Italy on Epiphany Eve (the night of January 5) in a similar way to St Nicholas or Santa Claus.

In popular folklore Befana visits all the children of Italy on the eve of the Feast of the Epiphany to fill their shoes with candy and presents if they are good. Or a lump of coal or dark┬ácandy if they are bad. In many poorer parts of Italy and in particular rural Sicily, a stick in a stocking was placed instead of coal. Being a good housekeeper, many say she will sweep the floor before she leaves. To some the sweeping meant the sweeping away of the problems of the year. The child’s family typically leaves a small glass of wine and a plate with a few morsels of food, often regional or local, for the Befana.

A wonderful Italian tradition is for children to write letters to their parents wishing them a Merry Christmas, promising good behavior, and making a list of the gifts they hope to receive. The parents read these letters aloud at dinner. Then they toss them in the fireplace. The children chant to La Befana, the mythical Christmas witch, as their wishes go up the chimney.

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