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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Every year there is a big festival held to celebrate the holiday. The infant Jesus was delighted, and he gave La Befana a gift in return; she would be the mother of every child in Italy. 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.

Transparent Language 6 Jan, 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. In other projects Wikimedia Commons. The magi invited her to join them on the journey pupet find the baby Jesus, but she declined, stating she was too busy with her housework.

Italy: La Befana, the original Good Witch

But an ‘Essay on the Fine Arts,’ by E. Others point to the name being a derivative of Bastrina, the gifts associated with the goddess Strina. The child’s family typically leaves a small glass of wine and a plate with a few morsels of food, often regional or local, for the Befana. Three places in Italy are nowadays associated with the Befana tradition: Another Christian legend takes a slightly darker tone as La Befana was an ordinary woman with a child whom she greatly loved.

Traditionally, all Italian children may expect to find a lump of ” coal ” in their stockings actually rock candy made black with caramel coloringas every child has been at least occasionally bad during the year. Befzna tradition tells that if one sees La Befana one will receive a thump from her broomstick, as she doesn’t wish to be seen.

She leaves all the good children toys and candy “caramelle” or fruit, while the bad children get coal “carbone”onions or garlic. She searched and searched for Baby Jesus, but never found him.


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 old lady character should then represent the “old year” just passed, ready to be burned in order to give place to the new one. Views Read Edit View history. One day the magi, also known as the three wise men, came to her door in search of baby Jesus.

Befana puppet during epiphany celebration

There are poems about Befana, which are known in slightly different versions throughout Italy. Until recently, Christmas was exclusively a family feast and children only received gifts on epiphany, which they found in the morning in the stockings in the stockings or shoes they had left out, alongside a bottle of wine, or a piece of salame for la Befana.

The presents were traditionally puppwt 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. Urbania is thought to be her official home. The Befana is ouppet throughout all of Bbefana, [10] and has become a national icon. That night she was not able to find them, so to this day, La Befana is searching for the little baby. Being a good housekeeper, many say she will sweep the floor before she leaves.

Retrieved pupppet ” https: Befana also maintains many similarities with Perchta and her Pre-Christian Alpine traditions.

The Legend of La Befana – Red Herring Puppets

Epifania is a Latin word with Greek origins meaning “manifestation of the divinity. All wrapped up In snow and frost and the north wind! Hundreds of Befanas are present, swinging from the main tower.

Another commonly heard Christian legend of La Befana starts at the time of the birth of baby Jesus. Wikimedia Commons has media related pupet La Befana.

Viene, viene la Befana. She never caught up with them, and to this year she deliveres her gifts to Italian children on the night before epiphany. Another version is given in a poem by Giovanni Pascoli: Befana still searches today, after all these centuries.


A popular belief is that her name derives from the Feast of Epiphany Italian: 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 European countries the tradition still exists of burning a puppet of an old lady at the beginning of the New Year, called Giubiana in Northern Italy, with clear Celtic origins.

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. About 30, to 50, people attend the festivities. Italian anthropologists Claudia and Luigi Manciocco, in their book Una casa senza porte “A House without Doors” trace Befana’s origins back to Neolithic beliefs and practices. In many poorer parts of Italy and in particular rural Sicily, a stick in a stocking was placed instead of coal.

Tarbuck, led me vefana believe that this custom is a relic of pagan worship, and that the word “Bastrina” refers to the offerings which used to beafna made to the goddess Strenia. This illuminated witch figure carried small gifts, and possibly some lumps of coal, in recognition of childrens’ behaviour over the past year.

Befana was never a widespread tradition among the whole Italian peoplehaving originated in Rome and having only become well known and practiced by the rest of the population during the 20th century. 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 bfana candy if they are bad. Befsna, the Befanas dance with parade goers and dust down the willing as parade goers walk by.

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.

Later, La Befana had a change of heart, and tried to search out the astrologers and Jesus.