The legendary story of the Befana, known as La Vecchia, is about the old woman Befana who was asked by the Three Kings to come along with them in search to find the Child King, born in Bethlehem. The figure of Babbo Natale (Father Christmas) with a red hat and suit, white beard, bag full of presents and sleigh with reindeers, is famous all over the world. As the story goes, one day, the three Magi left their country bearing special gifts of gold, incense and myrrh for the new-born Jesus Christ. It is celebrated on the 6 th of January, the day of the Epiphany, a Christian feast day that celebrates the revelation of God in his Son as human in Jesus Christ. To allow us to provide a better and more tailored experience please click "OK". The Story of La Befana (an Epiphany legend) One day three men dressed in strange clothes knocked on the door of a little old woman. The modern day Befana is now celebrated throughout Italy. This is my story of La Befana. She had such a pleasant and tidy home and the Three Wise Men were so pleased, they invited her to accompany them on their journey to find baby Jesus. La Befana, note the stockings in hand La Befana: The Kind, Italian Christmas Witch. In Italy the job of delivering nice gifts to good children and cenere e carbone (ashes and coal) to naughty ones belonged to La Befana. Another version is given in a poem by Giovanni Pascoli: Viene, viene la Befana Vien dai monti a notte fonda Come è stanca! Again, much like the Russian Babuschka tale, the story goes that a few days after the birth of Jesus, La Befana was approached by the magi because she was the best housekeeper in her village; they asked her for directions but she did not … An ancient European Legend comes alive with the story of La Befana-a mythical character who rewards the good children...and punishes the bad. However, there’s another holiday they celebrate that has a similar concept of Santa with some similarities to Krampus from other European countries. But if you … la circonda Neve e gelo e tramontana! She eventually met Jesus and presented gifts to make him happy. La Befana was so nasty and shoved them away without helping. She carries a bag full of candy and is said to be the best house keeper in all the land due to her habit of sweeping the houses of the children she visits before she leaves. She declined as she had much housework to do, but later had a change of heart. Every morning and every afternoon, Old Befana sweeps with her broom. It was too late, so she left on her own search looking for them and baby Jesus, leaving candy or fruit for the good children and coal, onions or garlic for naughty children. Another Christian story that takes a darker turn says Befana was an ordinary mother who was suffering from the loss of her child. Viene, viene la Befana. “Cranky old lady,” the children say. The Kings stopped to talked with her and asked if she might be interested in joining them on their journey to see the new baby. The story goes that La Befana, the witch, is still searching for the baby and visits the houses of children, looking for the special child. She carries a bag full of candy and is said to be the best house keeper in all the land due to her habit of sweeping the houses of the children she visits before she leaves. Epiphany is a public holiday in Italy, so schools and most businesses are closed. The Befana comes at night with worn-out shoes with a Roman-style cap long live La Befana! While encompassing early Christian and Roman traditions and celebrations, many of which we still celebrate today such as Christmas gift giving and New Year’s celebrations, some anthropologists have also tied some aspects of tradition of Befana to some pre-Christian elements of the Neolithic period and some Celtic aspects as well. La Befana is known all over throughout history as a wise and magical woman who arrives flying on a broom or sometimes even on a donkey bringing gifts to the children, leaving figs, dates, nuts, and candy on the eve of the Epiphany. The legend of Befana began thousands of years ago and remains to this day a tradition practised by Italian children and their families. glam theme by Restored 316, If you want to learn more about the festivities in Italy, you may also have a look at, Three Kings got to Jesus’s crib bearing gifts, « Where to stay in Rome with kids: best areas, hotels and apartments, One day in New York City with kids: family itinerary ». He was overcome with joy and gave her a gift in return, to be the mother of every child in Italy. 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. As it was a very cold night the old woman decided against travelling with the Re Magi but to follow on instead at daylight. La Befana may be the same folkloric figure as Berchta. Isabella has recently created two additional Befana items. One, a musical snow globe, evokes a scene straight from the beloved Christmas legend. And as they lie… She refused, but then later decided to go out in search for the Three Kings and this baby boy, the son of God they talked about. A variation of this story also says that she saw a light in the sky and went to follow it thinking it would lead her to the infant. The legend of La Befana – The Witch of Christmas. The Feast of the Epiphany is celebrated January 6 with a national holiday in Italy, and the tradition of La Befana are a big part of Italian Christmas celebrations. La Befana comes in all shapes and sizes depending on who is telling the story. It is an annual tradition for many families to wait in the piazza at midnight and pretend to spy Befana up in a high window, fooling the kids. But seeing the Christmas Star in the sky, she was drawn to find the … Every child is naughty at least some of the time, so it has become normal that each child gets a little lump of “coal”, rock candy made with black caramel colouring in their stocking among the other candy. The Italian-language Christmas fantasy comedy film The Legend of the Christmas Witch (Italian: La Befana vien di notte), was released on December 27, 2018. The Befana is a witch who roams the world (which seems to consist only of the Italian peninsula, South Tirol excluded) in the night between the fifth and sixth of January. In the Western world we have Santa Claus and Italians also believe in Old Saint Nick during Christmas. Befana is portrayed as a hooded old hag, similar to the type of witches we see during Halloween, covered in soot (she enters homes through the chimney) and rides a broom. The children are told that she will give them a swift thump from her broomstick if they try to see her when she arrives, but the tradition could just be to keep kids in their beds. They explained they were seeking a newborn child--a wondrous child. The figure of “la Befana” as we know it may have origins way older than those of the festivity, the Epifania, we usually associate her with.Her roots, it seems, have to be sought in pre-Christian times, and developped well into a tradition made of folklore and religious elements. Sound familiar so far? If the legend didn’t date back so far, it would seem like the Italians just mixed western Halloween and Christmas traditions to create their own January celebration. They celebrate many more national holidays from the Christian religion than some other countries and therefore have more traditions for the holidays. It all started in the time of King Herod on the eve of the Epiphany The children of the village dismiss the legend as an old wives tale, but as the slaughters continue, their doubts begin to wane. This holiday is based on the biblical story of the three wise men/three kings offering Jesus the gifts of gold, myrrh and frankincense. This legend of La Befana was created from a mixture of superstitions and religious beliefs. Befana is portrayed as a hooded old hag, similar to the type of witches we see during Halloween, covered in soot (she enters homes through the chimney) and rides a broom. In many ways, the story of Befana reminds me of the biblical story of Mary and Martha (Lazarus' sisters). One story says the Three Wise Men from the Bible stopped to ask her for directions a few days before the birth of baby Jesus. La Befana In Italy: history. Befana is a folklore tradition attached to a January holiday, but has some unusual characteristics that go along with it. People celebrate with a feast and also the children get presents from La Befana. The English translation is: Here comes, here comes the Befana She climbs down the chimney and fills the socks of good children with sweets and small toys, while leaving bad kids empty-handed and sadly staring at a lump of coal. La Befana is an old Italian Christmas tradition dated at the 13 th century. Befana is an interesting folk tradition in Italy that keeps the children behaving and something to look forward to after the Christmas and New Year holidays. History of La Befana. Befana, a grandmotherly woman who resembles a kindly witch, brings gifts to good little children, depositing them in stockings hung above the hearth, then tidying up a bit before taking her leave. Traditions are part of what make each culture unique, and this Christmas and Halloween hybrid is definitely unique to Italy. Italy is a historically Catholic culture with many holidays, traditions and beliefs coming from biblical and religious roots. La Befana Story. However, in the cities when she comes to hand out gifts (like the Santas in Stores), she usually rides on a donkey and has two baskets on each side. To be gracious and thankful hosts, families leave her a glass of wine and a bit of their traditional local food to refuel her for the rest of her journey. Befana is said to be an old woman and many refer to her as a witch, who visits all the children in Italy on the eve of the Epiphany, celebrated on January 6. According to legend, Befana is an old witch who flies through the night of January 5th on her broom delivering presents to children. La Befana was stopped by the Three Wise Men and asked her to lead them to the manger and stable where baby Jesus was born. Tradition has it that La Befana, an old woman of modest means, lived in a shack at the time of the birth of Jesus Christ. In some poor parts of Italy, the children receive a stick in their stocking instead of coal if they’ve been naughty. The Story of La Befana The Italian Christmas Witch Grade Level: Kindergarten and First Grade Subjects: Social Studies / Language Arts (Folklore) Categories: Arts and Sciences / History and Society Standards Please see page 4 of the lesson plan for complete New Jersey Student Learning Standards alignment. One night, The Three Magi, on their way to find the Christ child, stopped to ask for directions to Bethlehem and for food and shelter. She fills the children’s stockings full of either candy or coal, depending on their behaviour the year before. In this beloved classic picture book, Tomie dePaola retells and illustrates an Italian Christmas folk tale, breathing warmth and humanity into the character of the lonely Old Befana and her endless search for the Christ Child. The Story of La Befana Legend has it that on their way to Bethlehem, the Re Magi met an old woman, la Befana, and invited her to go with them to visit Gesu’ Bambino. The name La Befana derives from the word "epifania". Italy’s oldest and most celebrated legend Painting by James Lewicki, from “The Golden Book of Christmas Tales” 1956 . She went crazy with grief and when she heard about the birth of Jesus, she went to find him in the delusion that he was her son. The Legend of La Befana In Italian folklore, La Befana is a witch who brings good children treats on the morning of the Epiphany, January 6. There are a few different legends of how Befana started. What is the story of la Befana? Like “The Night of La Befana,” both are available exclusively at the Italian Children’s Market. Some places celebrate Befana more than others such as Piazza Novana in Rome, where you can find some candies and mini coal candy on sale during the Christmas and Epiphany market where lore says she shows herself in a window at midnight, bringing a crowd to “see” Befana every year at midnight in early January. Along the way she brings gifts and chocolate to any children she decides are good, and to the bad children she leaves pieces of coal or garlic. Her name comes from befania, a corruption of the Greek word epifania, which means apparition or manifestation. She did not know and although she couldn’t help them, she did offer them food and shelter for the night. Origins: The story of La Befana has been told in Italy since the 16th century, according to the Times.La Befana is nice to well-behaved children but can be a … Tradition has it that on the 5th of January the Three Kings ran into la befana while she was sweeping the floor and taking care of the housework. Directed by Sean Cisterna. Inspired by the many Italian cakes baked on Epiphany Eve as offerings to “La Befana”, this fruity golden cake (with a dash of spirit) is a Witches Cake. We and our partners use cookies to better understand your needs, improve performance and provide you with personalised content and advertisements. While a guest in thier home, Mary chose to spend time with Jesus while Martha is too busy with her household chores. Some regions where the religious holiday of the Epiphany is held in a higher regard, such as Umbria, Le Marche, and Latium, have big festivals and markets, and many people like to dress in costume as Befana. House cleaning witches on brooms, candy or coal in stockings, and all in the name of the biblical holiday of the Epiphany. She is the Italian Christmas witch who delivers presents to children on the Night of the Epiphany. On January 5th throughout Italy, excited children prepare for a late-night visit from La Befana by hanging up socks to be filled with small delights. La Befana Italy's traditional holiday celebration includes the tale of a witch known as La Befana who arrives on her broomstick during the night of January 5th with toys and sweets for the good children and lumps of coal for the bad ones. The stories about La Befana vary greatly from region to region, but Tomie DePaola's version comes closest to the one I learned as a child. In Italy, children eagerly wait for a visit from another figure known in … 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. Inside the globe, there’s a cobbled village road and a tiny sculpture of wise old Befana. She continues to look and even though she hasn’t found him, she still leaves gifts for all the children, because the goodness and innocence of Jesus can be found in every child. Most sources say that the myth of La Befana goes back to the 13th century. Since the 13th century, La Befana has been leaving her presents in children's stockings, but her story goes back much further than that. With Nadia Peressini, Laura Petti, Antonella Brundo, Italo Lo Presti. La Befana is a With Epiphany coming up on January 6, we've already read The Legend of Old Befana by Tomie DePaola several times in our home. So, Santa gets fat and jolly from all the sweets families leave for him and Befana drunkenly rides her broom from house to house leaving candy. Who is La Befana? The Italian-Spanish co-production was directed by Michele Soavi and features a 500-year-old Befana who works as a schoolteacher by day. 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