LA BEFANA – the old lady who comes at Epiphany

PictureLa Befana

The story of the Befana goes back a long while in Italian folklore tradition. She is portrayed as an old lady carrying a broom and comes down the chimney on the evening between January 5 and 6. Also depicted like a witch, she comes down the chimney to visit the children and reward them for their good behaviour (or not). For those who have been naughty get a lump of coal or an onion in their stocking… while those who have been good are given lollies, sweets or caramelle.

The term Befana comes from the Greek word Epiphany – meaning “manifestation or apparition”. Legend has it that one cold night, the 3 Wise Men knocked on her door asking for directions to find baby Jesus. She pointed them to Bethlehem and they asked her to join them. The Befana said she was too busy and had a lot of cleaning and jobs to attend to so she did not go. This she regretted and every since she has been riding her broom stick on her journey to join them and find baby Jesus. So she stops along the way visiting many homes and leaving gifts in the hope she finds Jesus.
Italy and in particular Abruzzo is full of so many traditions and  rich folklore to discover. What is the Befana bringing you this Christmas?