The Origins of the Christmas witch
The Befana is a beloved figure in Italian folklore, known as the Christmas witch. According to legend, the Befana is an old woman who travels by broomstick on the night of January 5th, delivering gifts to good children and coal to naughty ones.
The origins of the Befana can be traced back to ancient Roman celebrations of Saturnalia and Sol Invictus, in which gifts were exchanged, and mischievous behavior was allowed. Over time, these traditions merged with the Christian celebration of Epiphany, or the arrival of the three Wise Men to visit the baby Jesus.
Where do they celebrate the Christmas witch?
Befana is said to be inspired by the biblical figure of the Magi, who visited the baby Jesus and brought him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. In Italy, the holiday of Epiphany, which commemorates the visit of the Magi, is known as “La Festa della Befana.”
In Italy, the Befana is often depicted as a kindly old woman dressed in ragged clothing and a shawl, with a basket of gifts on her back. Children leave out a small glass of wine and a plate of treats for the Befana to enjoy as she makes her rounds. In some regions, it is also traditional to leave out a small gift, such as an ornament or a piece of candy, for the Befana to find.
In the days leading up to the Befana’s arrival, children often write letters to her, listing the gifts they hope to receive. Some families even hold Befana parties, with games and activities centered around the Christmas witch.
The Befana is a beloved figure in Italian culture, and her legend is passed down from generation to generation. She serves as a reminder that the holiday season is a time for giving and spreading joy, and her arrival is eagerly anticipated by children and adults alike.
If you are interested in learning more about spooky Christmas folklore read Haunt Tonight’s blogs on Krampus.
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