La Befana in Italy in 2020

La Befana in Italy in 2020
  How long until La Befana?
This holiday next takes place in 24 days.
  Dates of La Befana in Italy
2021 Italy Wed, Jan 6 Public Holiday
2020 Italy Mon, Jan 6 Public Holiday
2019 Italy Sun, Jan 6 Public Holiday
2018 Italy Sat, Jan 6 Public Holiday
2017 Italy Fri, Jan 6 Public Holiday
On the night before Epiphany, Befana visits Italian children, leaving a present in their stockings
  Local name
Related holidays

Epiphany in Italy

On 6 January, Italians celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany with a national public holiday. Epiphany marks the end of the Christmas period and commemorates the presentation of the infant Jesus to the Magi, or three wise men.

The celebration of the Epiphany began in the Eastern Church and included a celebration of Christ's birth. However, by the 4th century AD., the various calendar reforms had moved the birth of Christ to 25 December and the church in Rome began celebrating 6 January as Epiphany.

The Pope will lead a Mass in St Peter's Basilica at 10.00 on Epiphany. All Schools and businesses will be closed, but most stores will remain open as the post-Christmas sales period that traditionally began on 3 January in Italy is in full swing.

The tradition of La Befana

6 January is also known as La Befana. In Italian folklore, Befana is an old soot-covered woman or witch who delivers presents to Italian children on the night before La Befana (Epiphany Eve).

The story goes that on their way to see the infant Jesus, the Magi stopped to ask Befana for directions and asked her to join them. She initially refused, but later had a change of heart and tried to find the manger. She was unable to find the baby Jesus and gave the gifts she had brought to other children.  To this day, she travels on her broomstick every year on January 5 looking in vain for the manger and giving her presents to any Italian child who leaves a stocking out on Epiphany Eve. This legend arose in the 13th century and for a long time La Befana was a tradition confined to Rome and the surrounding regions, but this festival has become popular across all of Italy in the last hundred years.

It wouldn't be a proper Italian festival without an excuse to bake some yummy food and La Befana is no exception. Special treats on La Befana include sweet coal, small cookies called befanini and Befana cake - a cake with a large dried bean inside. Whoever gets the bean in their slice is king (or queen) for the day.

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