Italy’s Christmas Witch: La Befana

Italy befana witch in orange

Excuse me for playing a little bit of blog catch-up. The past few weeks have been spent studying and enjoying the presence of one of my favorite people.  But now my final is over and (sadly) my friend has gone back to the US, and I’ve been meaning to tell you about La Befana, the Christmas witch.

La Befana made my list of Creepy Christmas Characters, but after spending Christmas in Italy, the old lady has grown on me a little bit.

Santa Claus is definitely around in Italy (usually in the form of a strange decoration hanging out of windows), but La Befana is the real star of the Christmas season.

The story goes that La Befana was sweeping her house when the three wise men passed by and asked her to come with them and bring a present for baby Jesus. She declined.

La Befana has always regretted not bringing a present to Christ, so she goes around every year leaving presents for all the children on the eve of the Epiphany (which is on January 6th).

It’s a little strange to walk around the Piazza Navona Christmas Fair and see witch decorations everywhere, but you know, whatever floats your boat. Witches. Sure.

11 thoughts on “Italy’s Christmas Witch: La Befana

  1. Laura says:

    Hehe, I’ve enjoyed this story. That’s a friendly witch! I prefer my Three Wise Men, though.

    The caganer is not creepy! Actually, I find it funny! The red hat is called “barretina” and it’s a symbol of Catalan identity. There is a pitch invader (Jimmy Jump) that always wears it when he runs onto the fields.

    P.S. I LOVE Piazza Navona!

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  6. bonnie melielo says:

    We, and each of our daughters, has a statue of la Befana near the presepio. The nipotini receive italian candies and a small toy on the morning of Jan. 6, which are placed near the statue. They leave out a small glass of wine and a piece of cheese for her. 🙂 We love the Tomie dePaola storybook of her.

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