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Welcome to News From Italy, my blog about our Italian Adventure. Although this blog has now ceased publication I will be continuing to blog and I am sincerely hoping that my many followers here will move with me to Travel Tales blog to follow my next adventures wherever they may take me. The links to my other blogs are:-


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Friday, January 4, 2013

Festa della Befana in Italia, Epifania 2013 - Festival of Befana and Epiphany in Italy



 La Befana vien di notte
                              con le scarpe tutte rotte
                               con le toppe alla sottana
                                  Viva, Viva La Befana! 
                          "  The Befana comes by night  
                            with broken shoes
                            with patches on the skirt 
                            Viva, Viva La Befana!  "
According to Italian tradition 'La Befana' is an old witch woman that flies in on her broom to visit children on the night between 5 and 6 January, before Epiphany, to fill the socks that are left hanging near a chimney or window. It is traditional also to leave this kind-hearted witch some refreshments, such as a tangerine, an anchovy, smoked herring or a pickled onion and of course a glass of red wine. If the children have been good they will find their stockings filled with tangerines, dried fruit, nuts, sweets and other small gifts. Naughty children will just receive a stocking full of coal!
The origins of  'La Befana' are thought to be related to old agricultural pagan traditions when the twelfth night after the winter solstice, celebrated the death and rebirth of nature, through the pagan figure of Mother Nature . The Romans believed that in these twelve nights, female figures were flying over the fields to bless future harvests. To guide them according to some was Diana , goddess of the moon related to the vegetation. The Church condemned  such beliefs, saying they were the result of satanic influence. These  stories have given rise to many stories which resulted in the Middle Ages in 'La Befana,'

According to a Christian version, one of many The Three Kings , directed to Bethlehem to bring gifts to baby Jesus, unable to find their way, ask directions of an elderly lady.  So somehow the leaving of sweets for children along the way in the hope that one of them was the Baby Jesus has linked these two events together.
I found this video on YouTube that tells the story for those of you that are able to watch, which I hope you will find interesting.
                                                    'La Befana's - Italian Christmas Story.
L' Epiphany, The Epiphany on January 6th, the twelfth day of Christmas is considered a solemn feast of obligation by the Catholic Church. The last day of the Christmas holidays and a public holiday in Italy to celebrate it will be back to school and work for everyone on January 7th.

24 comments:

  1. I love this story, Linda. :-) The idea of a kind witch flying about bringing presents is just lovely. :-)

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  2. Uma tradição legal essa!Gosto! beijos,chica

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  3. Very interesting Linda, I hadn't heard of this before!
    Hope you and your family are doing well..
    Duncan In Kuantan

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  4. Thank you very much Lindy for this lovely story. I love Befana, too. I've got to know about this charming witch 4 years ago when I spent my first Epiphany in Italy.
    I wish you happy Befana!

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  5. Hi Linda. I've certainly never heard of this before, but how lovely that there is a kind witch out there, filling the childrens' stockings!

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  6. Great traditions to keep! Thanks for sharing!!
    I have a give-away at my blog, if you a bit of extra time, stop by!
    Have a great weekend!

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  7. Hello Lindy e BUON ANNO!

    I remember being terrified of La Befana, but that night, to us Italian children, was a very special night, a mixture of fear, excitement and expectations!
    I wish I could be a child again, so I could get my gift and a stocking full of caramelle and, no doubt... a piece of sweet coal!

    CIAO!

    ANNA
    x

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  8. Beautiful story.....I think I'll adopt the tradition when I am blessed with grand kids---ha ha!!

    Here in Newfoundland, we observe January 6 as Old Christmas Day....most people leave their tree and decorations up until Old Christmas Day,

    Happy New Year to you and yours.

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  9. Wow, this was interesting. It gave me a feeling of Halloween and Christmas put together with the witch and the stockings! How neat :)

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  10. Enjoy the celebrations and have a Happy New Year!

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  11. Somewhere all these stories are related and intertwined... I did not know the story of 'la Befana'..its really a lovely story.
    Being a catholic myself.. The Epiphany has always been a special day.
    Here in Portugal there are traditions too. I made a post last christmas about it.
    A really nice post Lindyloumac.
    happy days for 2013.
    val

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  12. Vim aqui agradecer sua visita em meu cantinho, e tmb estou seguindo aqui, quero conhecer um pouco mais sobre a Itália, tenho uma sobrinha q mora alguns anos lá, e tenho um sobrinho neto italiano. Espero ver sua marquinha lá no blog. bjs querida tenha um final de semana maravilhoso.

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  13. Hello Linda, Happy New Year to you and your loved ones. What a charming tradition, I didn't know anything about it. Thank you for your friendship over this last year, I do value it. Much love, Linda x

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  14. NELLA TRADIZION COSTALE DELLA SOMALIA CIOE' NELLA REGIONE DEL BENADIR
    C'E' UNA COSA SIMILE ALLA BEFFANA ALL'INIZIO DEL NUOVO ANNO LUNARE E PRECISAMENTE AL DECIMO GIORNO DEL MESE LE MADRI RACCONTANO AI BAMBINI CHE IN QUESTA SERATA ARRIVA LA COSI CHIAMATA ABA ANSHURA (UN VECCHIA)STREGA E PORTA OGNUNO SUL PRPRIO LETTO DOVE ERA NATO ALLORA PER EFFETTUARE QUESTO ATTO BISOGNA FARSI UN BEL BAGNO ,MANGIARE BUONO E BENE .ALTRIMENTI LA VECHHIA GLI RIEMPIE LA PANCIA DI SASSI

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  15. mentre nella religione islamica il decimo giorno del primo mese dell'anno lunare e' combacia con il giorno in cui mose' il profeta ando' dal faraone al fine persuaderlo a riconoscere ed obbedire DIO

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  16. I'd never heard of this. Thanks for sharing.
    Ann

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  17. My dear Linda, I am so very sorry to hear that your husband is unwell. I do hope it is nothing too serious, and that with a bit of tlc he will make a speedy recovery. Please do not apologise, we understand completely, your need to be with your husband.My thoughts and prayers are with you. With all my love, Linda xx

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  18. What an interesting tradition! I am adding this to my folklore traditions and celebration collection.

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  19. Well, she gives witches a good name.

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  20. Hope you had a happy Epifania, LindyLouMac. Sorry I haven't been over for a while - have had some troubles. x

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  21. That's a use Mr. G. brought with him ! When our son was little we used to celebrate Santa Claus (for the Belgians) Christmas (as everybody except the Dutchs) and the Befana ! It was hard for me to find a witch, lol ! as Halloween was unknown in the 70th. So the gifts were split into 3 ! small once at Santa Claus and Befana, and the big once at Christmas !

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  22. :D One of my daughter's favorite books when she was a child was Tomie de Paola's book about Old Befana. I enjoyed reading this post so much, and I'm sending the link to Shanley Belle!

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