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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There are poems about Befana, which are known in slightly different versions throughout Italy. Popular tradition tells that if one sees La Befana one will receive a thump from her broomstick, as she doesn’t wish to be seen.

Tarbuck, led me to believe that this custom is a relic of pagan worship, and that the word “Bastrina” refers to the offerings which used to be made to the goddess Strenia.

Italy: La Befana, the original Good Witch

Women, men, and children dressed in La Befana costume and nose sing love songs to serenade the sun to beckon its return. She is often smiling and carries a bag or hamper filled with candy, gifts, or both.

Befana turned them away because she was too busy bfana. Macaulay says, “Christianity conquered paganism, but paganism infected Christianity; the rites of the Pantheon passed into her ‘worship, and the subtilties of the Academy into her creed.

Befana puppet during epiphany celebration

Others point to the name being a derivative of Bastrina, the gefana associated with the goddess Strina. We could hardly expect that the pagans who embraced Christianity could altogether abandon their former creeds and customs.

Retrieved from ” https: In many poorer parts of Italy and in particular rural Sicily, a stick in a stocking was placed instead of coal. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Befana puppet on display at a market stall in Navona Square at Christmas, Rome, Italy

In other projects Wikimedia Commons. One day the magi, also known as the three wise men, came to her door in search of baby Jesus.


But an ‘Essay on the Fine Arts,’ by E.

She never caught up with them, and to this year she deliveres her gifts to Italian children on the night before epiphany. A theory connects the tradition of exchanging gifts to an ancient 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. 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.

Views Read Edit View history. The team of anthropologists also wrote about Befana as a figure that evolved into a goddess associated with fertility and agriculture. The presents were traditionally a a piece of fruit or candy, and it was not unusual to also receive a piece of coal, with the assumption that the child had been bad at some point in the previous year.

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. 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.

Later, La Befana had a change of heart, and tried to search out the astrologers and Jesus. As with all other Italian fesivities, the rest of the day was spent feasting with the family.

Befana – Wikipedia

However, her child died, and her resulting grief maddened her. 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. 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.


Three places in Italy are nowadays associated with the Befana tradition: Here is one of the versions:.

This illuminated witch figure carried small gifts, and possibly some lumps of coal, in recognition of childrens’ behaviour over the past year. Popular mythology has it that the three wise men stopped into la Befana’s house on their way to Bethlehem, seeking shelter and puppe meal for the night.

Sophia’s sketch for La Befana puppet. Urbania is thought to be her official home. She provided them with shelter for a night, as she was considered bevana best housekeeper in the village, with the most pleasant home. Return to main page.

To some the sweeping meant the sweeping away of the problems of the year. The Befana comes by night With her shoes all tattered and torn She comes dressed in the Roman way Long live the Befana! The tradition of Befana appears to incorporate other pre-Christian popular elements as well, adapted to Christian culture puppey related to the celebration of the New Year. 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 Italy.

Sometimes, the Befanas dance with parade goers and dust down the willing as parade goers walk by. Calandra Italian American Institute n. Befana notices a bright light in the sky; she thinks this is the way to baby Jesus. The old lady character should then represent the “old year” just passed, ready to be burned in order to give place to the new one.

The Befana is celebrated throughout all of Italy, [10] and has become a national icon.