Befana is coming!
Today, January 6th, is an observed holiday in Italy, celebrating the day the 3 Magi visited baby Jesus. It is also the last day of the Christmas holidays: tomorrow all kids will be back in school after the long break that began before Christmas!
January 6th is also called the day of the Befana. Befana is a character of the Italian folklore: an old lady with a big nose, wearing an old shawl as a coat, who fly on her broom the night before the 6th, to deliver presents to the kids who have been good, and coal, garlic and turnips to those who were bad. She is dirty of soot because she enters the homes through the chimneys. Befana leaves presents in children’s stockings hung near the fireplace or in their shoes placed at the door.
Basically Italian kids receive presents at Christmas and on January 6th…..
I still remember how I always worried about the possibility of receiving coal, so I made sure to be good few days before January 6th. Now that I think about it, this holiday must have been invented by some parents who needed an incentive for kids to be good while at home from school **just joking**.
I remember finding ‘carbone’ [=coal] in the stocking one year, but it was black rock candy that actually looks like pieces of coal :-). See an example here of sweet “coal”.
Today I am grateful for my parents who provided me with a happy childhood.