Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Befana DID come!

Befana dolls at a holiday market in Bassano del Grappa

La Befana visits the homes of Italian children on the eve of the Epiphany.  As the story goes, the Befana, an old woman, was outside sweeping when the Magi (three wise men) passed by on their way to find the Christ child.  She was asked to join their entourage, but passed up the offer, as she was busy with house hold chores.  Later she regretted her decision and set out on her own to search for the child.  She vowed to visit every house and leave sweets for all the good children as she searched for the Christ child.  

Mama made Befana stockings
 Italian children place stockings by the hearth on the eve of the Epiphany. Children who have been good are rewarded with candies from the Befana, and children who have been naughty are left stockings full of coal, or carbone.  And for those children who were some where in between naughty and nice there is the candy coal option.  

Candy Coal

Our first year in Italy I didn't know about the Befana, but my 3 year old who was in Italian pre-school knew all about her.  So when January 6 came around and the Befana did not visit we had a bit of trouble on our hands.  I had to explain that as new arrivals in Italy I was suppose to register my children with the Befana and I had neglected to do so.  He bought it, but still remains a little skeptical, so now every year that she does arrive to fill stockings with candies the children are amazed.  So on the morning of the 6th there were plenty shouts of joy, "the Befana DID come!" 


  1. Oh, the stories we tell to our children! :D Sam's Elf on the Shelf was supposed to move every night, but we would frequently forget. We had to cover by saying the elf didn't leave EVERY day to report to Santa. Sam learned about Christmas around the world, and he said Italy was his favorite!

  2. I like the holiday season here, too. It starts earlier and ends later than it does in the States, but it is not nearly as commercial. What is it about Christmas in Italy that Sam liked?