The Italian legend of La Befana is as popular with adults as it is with children.
Befana is the old lady who visits Italian girls and boys on the eve of January sixth, the Feast of Epiphany, bringing toys, nuts and candies to those who are good and a dark coal looking candy to the naughty. For adults the Day of La Befana is an occasion to masquerade and party.
Befana is usually portrayed as an ugly old witch, sometimes called the Christmas Witch. Obviously La Befana does possess certain mysterious witch like characteristics. She lives throughout the centuries and makes herself visible to no one. Furthermore, Befana is capable of being and operating in many places at the same time, visiting all children of Italy on one single night.
La Befana is indeed a witch but she is a good witch and she is loving, kind and beautiful; like my grandmother and yours.
The Day of La Befana falls on the twelfth day of Christmas, and Befana’s visit with gifts recalls the Wise Men’s visit to the baby Jesus in Bethlehem where they presented Him with gifts.
The Day of La Befana brings the Italian Christmas season to a grand conclusion with celebrations, the exchange of gifts and best wishes, auguri.