Monday, 6 January 2014

Travelling into Italian culture - La Befana, an Italian festival

January, 6th is a national holiday in Italy called Epifania
The name "Epifania" means appearance or manifestation. It is a derivative of the Greek word Epiphaneia. The name refers to the Epiphany, the yearly Christian festival which commemorates the visit of the three wise men.
 Italy's traditional celebration includes the tale of a witch known as La Befana who arrives on her broomstick during the night of January 5th and fills the stockings with toys and sweets for the good children and lumps of coal for the bad ones.

According to the legend, the night before the Wise Men arrived at the manger they stopped at the house of an old woman to ask directions. They invited her to come along but she said that she was too busy cleaning her house. 

Later that night, she saw a great light in the sky and decided to join the Wise Men and to bear some gifts that had belonged to her child who had died. She got lost and never found the manger.
Now La Befana flies around on her broomstick each year on the night of January 5th, bringing gifts to children in hopes that she might find the Baby Jesus. 

In Italy, La Befana is loved as much as Santa Claus. She is usually portrayed as an old woman who wears a black shawl and rides a broomstick. Figures of this character are sold in shops in Italy around January 6th.

The arrival of la Befana marks the end of the long holiday season in Italy.

 Watch this video about La Befana festival in Piazza Navona, Rome.


Did you get sweets ...or coal?

This is a reportage from a student:
I went to Rome on January, 6th. In Piazza Navona there were a lot of people, expecially American and British. They were curious about la Befana! It is a typical Italian holiday. These are some photos i took there. Valerio Vinci, III D


  1. Thank you Valerio for your photos! I've added them to the post. Keep on travelling!

  2. Wonderful it is. Thanks for awaking such beautiful culture. Cheap flights to Australia