The name "Befana" must take its origin from a corruption of the word "Epifania" - Epiphany - but somehow has come to mean an ugly old witch. On January 5, eve of the Epiphany, she flies around on her broomstick delivering sweets to the good children and lumps of coal to the bad ones: they find them by their beds when they wake up in the morning on January 6. (As there are no bad children nowadays - or more likely because coal fires are no longer in use - a black sweet takes the place of real coal.)
Notes on "La Befana" from Eliana!
Thanks, Eliana!!! :-)
Buon capodanno anche a te!
Just wanted to remind you of the very important 'Festa della Befana' tomorrow. I am particularly fond of it, since today it is my birthday, and my nickname for my entire childhood was 'befanina'. Have a very happy new year and thank you for your great blog.
Saluti, Eliana Marsella
La Befana vien di notte
Con le scarpe tutte rotte,
Col vestito alla romana,
Viva, viva la Befana!
The Befana comes at night
With her shoes all broken,
Dressed in the Roman style.
Hurray, hurray for the Befana!
But the real meaning of Epiphany is still celebrated on January 6, which is a national holiday in Italy and a feast-day of the Catholic church. There are processions in many towns, where people act out the arrival of the Three Wise Men at the stable in Bethlehem.
In Rome, one of the traditional processions takes place around Piazza del Popolo, ending at the church of Santa Maria del Popolo, which every year hosts an exhibition of cribs from all over the world. Another procession makes its way to St. Peter's Square, arriving in time for the Pope's Angelus blessing at noon on January 6.At Sutri, a small town on the Via Cassia less than an hour's drive from the capital, tableaux are staged among tombs and monuments dating from Roman times, which are lit up with torches all evening. In the village of Ostia Antica, which boasts a Renaissance castle as well as an archeological site, the Wise Men arrive on horseback while carols are sung in the church of Sant'Aurea.In Florence a procession takes place from the church of Santa Croce to the Duomo. "La Befana" marks the end of Christmas festivities: Epifania tutte le feste porta via. The following day the children return to school and their parents go back to work....but it won't be long till Carnival time!
--Posted to *Michelle's Mental Clutter* at 1/05/2006 11:51:14 AM