La Befana

La Befana is an old lady who brings toys to children in part of Italy on Epiphany night. The Epiphany is when the Three Kings brought gift to baby Jesus. The legend is that on their way to deliver presents to Jesus, The Three King came across La Befana. They asked her to come  with them, but she refused, saying she had too much housework to do. She later realized it had been wrong not to go with. So she ran off with her broom in search of the Kings, bearing her own presents for the baby Jesus. But she never caught up with them. It’s said that La Befana is still searching for the baby Jesus.

In the weeks preceding the Epiphany, the children of Italy are busy writing to La Befana, telling her the presents they would most like to receive. They are on their best behavior because they know that La Befana will leave a lump of coal, instead of sweet and toys, for ill behaved children.

On Epiphany night, January 6, Befana goes around leaving presents for children, in imitation of  the Three Wise men bring gifts to Jesus. Befana looks like a friendly witch, with a mole on her face and tattered clothes. She flies on a broom and goes down chimney to deliver toys for girls and boys. There is a little poem:

La Befana vien di notte
Con le scarpe tutte rotte
Col vestito da romana
Viva viva la Befana!

The Befana comes at night
In worn out shoes
Dressed like a Roman
Long live the Befana!

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