The Befana is a popular Italian folklore character associated with Epiphany, celebrated on January 6th. She is often depicted as a kind old witch who visits children on the night of January 5th, leaving gifts or sweets for well-behaved kids and coal for naughty ones.


One legend suggests that she was a woman who missed the visit of the Three Wise Men to see the baby Jesus and has been searching for the Christ child ever since.

Burning the Befana in certain Italian towns is part of a unique tradition that varies from the more common Befana celebration. In these towns, it’s not the actual Befana character who is burned, but rather a symbolic representation of the past year. The burning of the Befana effigy signifies the end of the old year and the start of the new one, with the belief that it helps rid the community of negativity, bad luck, and troubles from the previous year. This ritual is often accompanied by festivities, music, and fireworks, and it serves as a way to welcome the fresh start and the hope for a better year ahead. It is a local variation of the Befana tradition and is not practiced throughout all of Italy.

Today, the Befana is celebrated with parades, parties, and gatherings throughout Italy, with children eagerly awaiting her visit and enjoying the treats she brings. It’s a beloved tradition that marks the end of the Christmas season in Italy.

BUONA BEFANA from Discover my Italy!

Italy travel expert dedicated to opening the real doors to my native country, so that you may have a truly authentic experience… and fall in love with Italy as your own. In every corner of my Italy, I’ve sought out the beauty and the pleasures of its landscapes, cities, villages and people. Many are famous or popular, but many others remain undiscovered or rarely experienced. I know them all well though, and I’m eager to share my knowledge with you.

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With love and gratitude,
Giovanna Chiti

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