“La Befana vien di notte…”: the Epiphany in Italy

“Befana comes at night…” says an old Italian song.
On the night between the 5th and 6th of January, in all Italian homes “la Befana” comes.
“La Befana” is an old woman who flies on her old broom to bring presents to every good child.
Usually Befana’s presents are candies and sweets: kids prepare stockings in their houses near the window or near the fireplace and Befana fill them with many yummy sweetsbefana1.
But be careful ! Bad kids will get only lumps of coal !
“Befana” word comes from “Epifania” (Epiphany): that’s why Befana comes in the Epiphany night.
And with Epiphany, Christmas time ends or, as we say in Italy, “L’Epifania ogni festa porta via” (Epiphany takes away every festivity).

La Befana vien di notte
con le scarpe tutte rotte
il cappello alla romana,
viva via la Befana !


4 Comments to ““La Befana vien di notte…”: the Epiphany in Italy”
  1. Robert says:

    My neapolitan nonna always said you left your shoes out, rather than stockings. Other than that her story was the same

  2. Anna says:

    I was born in Italy, I remember reciting la befana in front of our fireplace with Mom, siblings, & Grandma, in the morning found coal,nuts, some candy, money. it was fun!!

  3. Jillian says:

    This is a wonderful thing I have never heard of it. I will start next year celebrating it in my house. In the United States. I was not born in Italy. But my Italian Roots are DEEP!!!!

    • Gina says:

      I never heard of this before. I celebrated the Epiphany,but not in that way. My mother and grandmother were born in Italy, but I never heard them say anything about this. They are both deceased so I can’t ask them. Anyway I think it’s a wonderful custom and I too would like to celebrate it next year. Thank you Italian Side for all you do to help us explore our Italian roots!

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