Sophia’s sketch for La Befana puppet. In Italy, the feast of Epiphany, celebrating the arrival of the Three Magi in Bethlehem, eclipses the secular New Year as the . Download this stock image: Befana puppet on display at a market stall in Navona Square at Christmas, Rome, Italy – DFBX11 from Alamy’s library of millions of. Download this stock image: Befana puppet on display at a market stall in Navona Square at Christmas, Rome, Italy – DFBWRY from Alamy’s library of millions of.

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The old lady character should then represent the “old year” ouppet passed, ready to be burned in order to give place to the new one. In Italy, the feast of Epiphany, celebrating the arrival of the Three Magi in Bethlehem, eclipses the secular New Year as the important marker for the new year.

Others point to the name being a derivative of Bastrina, the gifts associated with the goddess Strina. A theory connects the tradition of exchanging gifts to an pupprt Roman festivity in honour of Ianus and Strenia in Italian a Christmas gift used to be called strennacelebrated at the beginning of the year, when Romans used to give each other presents.

There are poems about Befana, which are known in slightly different versions throughout Italy. Christian legend had it that Befana was approached by the biblical magialso known as the Three Wise Men or the three kings a few puplet before the birth of the Infant Jesus. On pjppet eve of the Epiphany, Befana comes to a house where there is a child ebfana leaves a gift. She never caught up with them, and to this year she deliveres her gifts to Italian children on the night before epiphany.

They juggle, dance and greet all the children. She leaves all the good children toys and candy “caramelle” or fruit, while the bad children get coal “carbone”onions or garlic.

Italy: La Befana, the original Good Witch

She brought some baked goods and gifts for baby Jesus in her bag and took her broom to help the new mother clean and began her search for baby Jesus. This illuminated witch figure carried small gifts, and possibly some lumps of coal, in recognition of childrens’ behaviour over the past year. She is often smiling and carries a bag or hamper filled with candy, gifts, or both. Sometimes, the Befanas dance with parade goers and dust down the willing as parade goers walk by.


This aspect of the tradition may be designed to keep children in their beds. This page was last edited beana 31 Decemberat Befana also maintains many similarities with Perchta and her Pre-Christian Alpine traditions.

To some the sweeping meant the sweeping away of the problems of the year. Another commonly heard Christian legend of La Befana starts at the time of the birth of baby Bbefana.

Views Read Edit View history. The magi invited her to join them on the journey to find the baby Jesus, but she declined, stating she was too busy with her housework. Befana still searches today, after all these centuries.

Return to main page. Hope, in his ‘Essay on Architecture,’ says: In popular folklore Befana visits all the children of Italy on the eve of the Feast of the Epiphany to fill their socks with candy and presents if they are good, or a lump of coal or dark candy if they are bad.

That night she was not able to find them, so to this day, La Befana is searching for the little baby. However, her child died, and her resulting grief maddened her. The Befana declined their offer, but, regretting her decision after they left, she packed up some toys belonging to her own child who had previously died and set out after them.

Here is one of the versions:. Wikimedia Commons has media related to La Befana. The Befana comes by night With her shoes all tattered and torn She comes dressed in the Roman way Long live the Befana! In other parts of the world where a vibrant Italian community exists, traditions involving Befana may be observed and shared or celebrated with the wider community. But an ‘Essay on the Fine Arts,’ by E. Befana turned them away because she was too busy cleaning.

Upon hearing news of Jesus being born, she set out to see him, delusional that he was her son. In the regions of the MarchesUmbria and Latiumher figure is associated with the Papal Stateswhere the Epiphany held the most importance.


Befana – Wikipedia

She is usually portrayed as a hag riding a broomstick through the air wearing a black shawl and is covered in soot because she enters the children’s houses through the chimney. In many poorer parts of Italy and in particular rural Sicily, a stick in a stocking was placed instead of coal. The widow was sush a nice hostess that they invited her to come with them to find the new born Jesus. One day the magi, also known as the three wise men, came to her door in search of baby Jesus.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Historian Carlo Ginzburg relates her to Nicevenn. La Befana, whose name comes from the Roman dialect’s pronunciation of the Italian “epifania”, is a friendly witch who comes delivering gifts for the good children, and lumps of coal to the bad ones.

She eventually met Jesus and presented him with gifts to make him happy. The singing hags gather in the street to give candy to children, to cackle and screech to accordion music, and to sing in every key imaginable as delighted parade participants join befwna the cacophony. This Befana appears to be heir at law of a certain heathen goddess called Strenia, who presided over the new-year’s gifts, ‘Strenae,’ from which, indeed, she derived her name.

They asked for directions to where the Son of God was, as they had seen his star in the sky, but she did not know. Bevana popular belief is that her name derives from the Feast of Epiphany Italian: Christmas characters Christmas in Italy Festivals in Italy Fictional characters who use magic Fictional witches Holiday characters Italian folklore Witchcraft in folklore and mythology Witchcraft in Hefana.

Befana puppet during epiphany celebration

Retrieved from ” https: We could hardly expect that the pagans who embraced Christianity could altogether abandon their former pjppet and customs. She searched and searched for Baby Jesus, but never found him. Urbania is thought to be her official home.