Who is the “Befana”, the nice old lady that comes on January 6th? And what does she do during this day? Read this article called “January 6th: Epiphany” to discover her legend!
Have you ever heard the saying L’epifania tutte le feste porta via – With Epiphany, all the holidays are over?
Well, this saying couldn’t be more right: January 6th represents the conclusion of Christmas festivities and the return to normalcy.
However, January 6th is still a day of celebration during which:
The Three Wise Men arrive: out of protest, my family and I add them to the Nativity Scene right after Jesus’ birth. I know this doesn’t follow tradition, but we feel it’s only fair to give them some space and let them be in the spotlight a little longer (not just one day).
The Befana arrives: the nice old lady dressed in rags and using a worn-out broom as a means of transport.
The Legend of the Befana and the Three Wise Men
After the birth of Jesus, the Three Wise Men set out from the East to bring gifts to the newborn baby. All of a sudden, however, the North Star which they were following disappeared, and not knowing in which direction to go, they asked for help from an old woman, the Befana.
In order to thank her, the wise men insisted several times that they take the old woman with them, but she firmly refused. Later, regretting her choice, she began to wander from house to house, bringing with her sweets to offer to children, in the hope of finally meeting baby Jesus.
The Befana is not a witch
Be careful not to confuse the Befana with the common Halloween witch. The Befana wears a large handkerchief knotted under her chin and never a pointed hat. She also wears long skirts that are often patched as well as worn-out shoes.
Tradition has it that on the night between January 5th and 6th, the Befana brings gifts to good children (usually candies and various sweets) and coal to children who misbehaved throughout the year, leaving everything in the stockings hanging from the chimney.