La Befana

Leggenda della Befana,Agriturismo Rigone in Chianti, Toscana

La Befana

The name “Befana” is a popular version of the Greek term “Epiphany”.

The Italian legend tells that the three Kings, the three wise men on their journey on the night between the 5th and 6th of January, following a star that would lead them to a new born baby Jesus became lost and knocked at a door of La Befana.

The old women gave them the right directions and they invited her to come along but she refused. When she realized that the baby they were searching for was the Redeemer her regret was so great  that she made lots of cakes and walked outside her home.

She offered cakes to all the children she met on her way, hoping one of them were Jesus. Since then, on the night between the 5th and 6th January she flies on her broom stick with a big bag on her back full of sweets, rewarding good children.

The kids who have behaved well in the past year, will find sweets and chocolates in their stocking on the day of the Epiphany. The nasty children will get a few lumps of coal and garlic. In Italy everyone loves La Befana. We  usually  imagine her as an old ugly woman with a big nose who wears an old, long and big skirt with colourful patches, a scarf on her shoulders, a hat and a pair of old and broken shoes.

Nowadays the kids stare at a playstation screen and not at the sky in search of Befana, but still, on the 6th of January in Montaione  there is a certain excitement among the children. Montaione has its own Befana that arrives on her vespa instead of the broom and offers sweets to the kids!