I have had an unbelievable holiday season here at my grandfather’s vineyard in Italy. While in America the festivities are over, I still have one more holiday to celebrate. La Befana, or The Christmas Witch, is celebrated in Italy and throughout Europe on January 6th. La Befana rides through the night sky on her broom carrying presents and sweets for children.
? Her name is derived from the celebration of The Epiphany, which is the "climax of the Christmas season and the Twelve Days of Christmas…usually counted from December 25th through January 5th," culminating in a feast and celebration on January 6th.
These are photos from a market that will be open all tonight so parents can buy gifts for their children:
This is in a local cafe:
Being a fine housekeeper, and having a broom with which to ride, some say she will sweep the floor before she leaves. The family, in anticipation of her arrival, typically sets out a small glass of wine and few morsels of food for their Christmas Witch.
La Befana is typically portrayed as a witch, only she is smiling and has a bag full of candy and gifts for good girls and boys. And like Santa Claus, she leaves behind "coal" for those who are bad. Except often, it’s a piece of hard rock candy instead!
There is a poem about La Befana, which is well-known throughout Italy:
La Befana vien di notte (La Befana comes at night)
Con le scarpe (With the broken shoes)
Tutte rotte vien vestita (She comes dressed in)
Alla romana (Peasant Roman style)
Viva, Viva La Befana! (Long live La Befana!)
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