La Befana has been an Italian tradition since before the 13th Century and is derived from a religious background rather than a modern and popular culture such as Babbo Natale ‘Santa Claus’
So the story goes that La Befana was approached by the Three Wise Men who asked her for directions of where the son of God was but she didn’t know and instead offered shelter for the 3 Magi for one night. The next morning the 3 Magi invited the old lady ‘Befana’ to go with them on their journey to find where baby Jesus laid but she was too busy cleaning and doing housework so she had declined but soon after she realized she had made a big mistake. She then gathered up a bag full of gifts and set off alone in search of the baby Jesus. Even though she followed the same star as the Three Wise Men she was unable to find the stable.
Undaunted, La Befana continues to travel the world late in the night on January 5th searching every house for the Christ child.
On January 6th, the first day of the Epiphany, Italian Children hold their breaths as they anxiously search their stockings to see if they have been bad or good that year.
If they have been good, they will find a stocking full of toys and sweets and if they have been bad, they will find a lump of coal which is basically a chunk of black sugar.
In Treviso, near Piazza Signori, the main Piazza, they have a many booths catering to this popular holiday and Italian tradition with stands throughout Beltrame ‘bar’ and other Piazzas.
So, I took a few photos to show you just how ‘important’ this holiday is in our beloved Italy, I also took a video which you can see on Inspired in Italy.
Soon, the carnevale will start in Venezia. I am really looking forward to going this year.