Today is l’Epifania (known as the Epiphany to English speakers), which means that good little boys and girls in Italy were visited by La Befana, the Italian Christmas witch, last night. Back when Jesus was born, the three wise men knocked on the door of a little old lady looking for directions. She was cleaning and didn’t make much time for them, but when she was done, she felt badly and decided to look for them with her broom still in hand. She brought small gifts for Baby Jesus, but she never did catch up to the kings, so she dropped the gifts into the shoes of other children in the hopes that one of them would be the baby. Every year on January 5, she keeps up her search for the savior bambino and keeps the little trinkets coming.
Unlike Santa (known as Babbo Natale to Italians), she does not have much money, and is therefore similar to the families in southern Italy, who are the ones who really keep up the tradition. And she brings smaller presents of chocolate or a few little toys stuffed into stockings or shoes. If you’re naughty, she leaves you coal (real coal). Hope Befana left you some of the good stuff instead. My little guy got some Kinder chocolate and also a couple of little toys (see below). Guess, La Befana thought he was good this year. My husband and I must have been good, too, because we’re about to eat a splendid Italian meal in homage to the witch. Buon La Befana!