Celebrating "La Befana"!

While in most other parts of the world, Christmas and New Year holidays have now come to an end, Italians are still celebrating, as every January 6, the Epiphany, is a national holiday to commemorate the visit of the Three Kings, i Re Magi, to the Baby Jesus.

This is also the day when children receive presents from La Befana, a legendary figure who flies on a broomstick on Epiphany Eve and comes down the chimney to fill children's socks with either candy and presents, if they have been good, or a lump of coal if they have been naughty.

With the prospect of extra presents for the kids and one last feast before the year’s work starts proper, Epiphany is a much loved holiday in Italy. The presence of “La Befana” adds a special twist - but a word to the wise. “La Befana” is usually portrayed as an ugly-looking old witch, so a gentleman should never wish Happy Befana Day to a woman. That would get you an angry look if you are lucky, and a threat to be fed coal if not.

Italian women, on the other hand, embrace all their self-irony and start laughing at each other with special 'Befana wishes'. There isn't a single year when my cousins and I miss this occasion! After all, in what other time can you tell another “You are such a witch (Befana)!” and get away with it!

And in the spirit of self-mockery, below is a slideshow of women embracing their Befana selves...

Buona Befana to all our female readers then - I am, of course, just joking!