Tag Archives: La befana

La Befana

Just when you thought Christmas was over here in Italy, we now await the arrival of the Befana.

When I was living in the UK, all of the decorations and Christmas tree would be down by now and the festivities would be truly over. Here in Italy Christmas ends after the arrival of the Befana on the eve of Epiphany ( January 5th), and in fact as you travel around you can see that many of the shops are still closed and those that are open are still playing Festive Music!

The story goes that an old lady (La Befana)  was asked to go with the three kings to Bethlehem but refused, she later changed her mind and decided to try and find baby Jesus. She rode on a broomstick and delivered toys to children on route.

The story goes that she gives coal to naughty kids and presents to those that have been good.

I’ve always been confused as what sort of gifts to buy and how much to spend, especially after the outlay at Christmas. I’ve spoken to many Italians in the area who have informed me it’s best to buy some sweets in a stocking and a small gift, in fact most sweet shops sell black confectionery that looks like coal.

La Befana is depicted as a witch but not necessarily  an evil one and of course most toy shops sell a version of  her.

I must admit that it’s taken a little while to fully get into this extended form of Christmas  but now I truly love it, especially as I prepare the gifts etc for my small son.

Happy New Year

Christmas in the Langhe 2011

My family and I have enjoyed yet another wonderful Christmas here in the Langhe region of Piemonte. Alba itself looked truly beautiful with all the decorations particularly Piazza Savona which as you can imagine was bubbling with local life and looked so glamorous with it’s decorations.

People often ask me how an Italian Christmas differs to that of the UK. Well I suppose in my opinion it’s not so commercialized with more aspect placed on the religious considerations. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still the big push on parents to buy presents for the kids etc, it’s just a little more low key.

One major difference is that the Christmas period extends a little, with La Befana. She is a witch who travels on a magic broom and on the night of January 5th delivers sweets to children who have been good and coal to those who have not. Children leave out their stockings hoping for them to be filled with goodies.

For an Englishmen like myself I find it a little strange that all the old Xmas songs are played again during this period, however its still a fun time to enjoy.

Happy  New Year to you all