befana.gifLa Befana Story

La Befana is a nice old woman who flies on her broom stick every year on the night between the 5th and 6th of January, which is the Epiphany day, to bring presents to children. That is why she carries a big bag on her back full of sweets, which la Befana will use to fill the stockings kids have left by their chimney. The kids who have behaved in the past year, will find sweets and chocolates in their stocking on the day of the Epiphany. Those who didn't behave will also get a few lumps of coal. However, everyone loves La Befana. Some people imagine La Befana with white hair, others with black hair but, a part from that, everybody agrees she has a long crooked nose, broken shoes and a patched dress.

La Befana Song

The Befana comes by night
With her shoes all tattered and torn
She comes dressed in the roman way
Long live the Befana!

The Legend of La Befana

The legend tells that the three Kings, on the night between the 5th and 6th of January, wanted to visit baby Jesus. They walked all night carrying presents with them. They became lost and knocked at a door of an old woman’s house, the house of La Befana.
They asked Befana which way they had to go to find Jesus and if she could come with them to Bethlehem. Befana gave them the right directions but she refused to go as she had lots of things to do at home.
After that, however, she regretted saying no to their request. So she made lots of cakes and walked outside her home. She offered cakes to all the children she met on her way, hoping one of them were Jesus. Since then, Befana brings gifts to all the children.

The Italian Tradition

The Italian tradition tells that La Befana, a nice old woman, on the night between the 5th and 6th January, lands on the roofs with her broom stick and goes down the chimney, where every child has left their stocking. La Befana, who carries with her a bag of sweets, fills the stockings of the children who behave with lots of chocolates. She fills the stockings of the kids who didn’t behave with lumps of coal instead.

The Epiphany day, the 6th of January, is considered the last day of the Christmas holiday and everyone takes the Christmas tree down on that day. In Italy there is a saying " L'Epifania che ogni festa si porta via" which roughly translated means “The Epiphany takes away all festivity”.

In most Italian regions, even adults give little presents to each other and so do lovers with stockings full of chocolate, that are similar to those that La Befana leaves for the kids.

Everyone knows La Befana as an old woman, usually ugly, who wears an old, long and big skirt with colourful patches, a scarf on her shoulders, a hat and a pair of old and broken shoes.

Dear children,

We are sure that the visitors of our website are all good boys and girls and if they have done something naughty or they didn’t listen to their parents or teachers, they have already apologised. So, don’t forget to put your stocking by your chimney, at the door or at a window on the Epiphany day, like you probably do on Christmas day. The Befana will surely come to you and fill your stocking with sweets and chocolate, but also remember that you need to behave if you want this to happen as Befana will also leave coal if you don't behave! We don’t want that to happen, do we? Leave the coal in the chimney, it's better!
Did you know? Italian children also get little presents on the Epiphany day rather than just on Christmas and they don’t go to school before the 6th of January. However they start their Christmas holidays later than you. On the night of the 5th of January, Italian children put a stocking by the chimney (if they have got one) or by a window or a door before to go to bed and they look forward to the morning when they run to their stocking.