Italy's oldest & most celebrated legend
The Feast of the Epiphany is celebrated on January 6th with a national holiday in Italy.
La Befana is a big part of Christmas celebrations & the last Italian winter holiday.
According to the Italian legend, La Befana, is a witch-like woman riding on a broom who refused to join the three Wise Men on their journey to see Jesus and to offer him precious gifts like myrrh.
When she regrets her decision, she sets out to bring gifts to the Child but never finds him.
So, she decides to leave gifts & sweets for the other children. But if you were bad, look out! You may wake up to a lump of coal.
Italian children leave out their shoes or put up stockings for the Befana to fill on January 5th, the Epiphany Eve. The next day they wake up to stockings full of sweets, candies, and small gifts.
Being a good housekeeper in the folklore, many say she will sweep the floor before she leaves. The sweeping means the sweeping away of the problems of the year.
The children typically leave a small glass of wine and a plate with a few morsels of food, often regional or local, for the Befana.
Epifania is a Latinized Greek word meaning "appearance" (of the divinity) on the surface (of the waters). It comes from the word "φαίνομαι" (phenome or fenome) that means "I appear". It all comes from the root word ΦΩΣ, (fos or phos) meaning light. From the same root comes the word φωτο-γραφία, (photo-graphy).
Did you know about this Italian holiday?
In your country do you celebrate something similar? Or something else during Winter Holidays?
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