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Who is the Befana? Italian traditions

January 6 is the Epiphany, a holiday in Italy. It’s the day when the Three Kings come to Jesus. In this day arrives in Italy also the Befana. But who is the Befana? What does she bring? 

Who is the Befana?

befana immagine • Who is the Befana? Italian traditions

The Befana is an old, ugly woman, usually associated with a witch, who fly across the country on her broom in the night between the 5th and 6th of January and fills the socks by the fireplace, which the children had hung up the day before, with sweets and little presents. But beware: children who were not well-behaved will get coal! Actually, the good children also get coal, because the Befana’s sweet coal is really tasty!

Here is a very famous children rhyme:

La Befana vien di notte
con le scarpe tutte rotte
col cappello alla romana
viva viva La Befana. 

(The Befana comes at night – with completely worn-out shoes – with a hat in roman style – long live the Befana)

The Three Kings

Befana in Italy

January 6, Epiphany (it. l’Epifania) is an holiday and the last day of Christmas. People in Italy take part to the Epiphany Mass, where people dressed as the Three Kings bring their present to Jesus.

You can read the story of the three wise men in Italy in our Advent Calendar, on December 20. Read the story


For lunch they meet with their family to enjoy the last day of Christmas together. There is no typical dish for this, but there are various traditional desserts, depending on the region. For example, it is typical in Lombardy, especially in the province of Varese, where our Ellie comes from, to eat the Cammello: it is a simple pastry made of puff pastry, shaped like a camel, in memory of the Three Kings who came to Jesus on camels.

Italian Cammello

After having eaten, all the Christmas decorations, the nativity scene and the Christmas tree are taken down. Christmas is over and the next day school starts again. As the saying goes: 

L’Epifania, tutte le feste si porta via!

(The Epiphany takes all holidays away!)

Story in Italian

Story in Italian: Avventura con la Befana

It is a stormy night and Befana loses her sack with the sweets for the children while flying. Cody, Kira and their Mom help her to find the sack again. A story in Italian with the Befana!

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