Holiday Storytellers
Around the World
Italy

Natale con I tuoi,
Capo D'Anno con chi vuoi


La Befana

This old Italian verse truly expresses the strong feelings the Italian people have for the celebration of Christmas. It means, "You celebrate the new year with whomever you please, but Christmas only with your own."

 

In fact, Christmas is often described as the warmest, most intimate Italian holiday because it is a special time when family members get together to enjoy age-old traditions.


In addition to Santa, children eagerly await the presents brought to them by a good-hearted witch called La Befana. She is the Christmas gift-giver who climbs down chimneys to fill the shoes of good children with treats.


 

Naughty children may find a lump of coal instead! Unlike Santa Claus who appears on Christmas Eve, La Befana arrives on the eve of Epiphany (January 5th).


 

La Befana supposedly wanders the countryside looking for Gesu Bambino (baby Jesus), year after year, and leaves gifts justin case she finds him.

 

On Christmas Eve, a ceremony takes place around the Presepio, a nativity scene of Bethlehem. Then, after Midnight Mass, there is cenone, which is a delicious feast of rich Italian foods.

 

 

 

The text is from the Holidays Around the World Information provided at Epcot.