We’re on day 2 of our theme week, “Christmas Characters Around the World”. Today, we’re moving from Germany to Italy, where instead of Santa, they have Christmas witch named La Befana, who brings children gifts. Befana is usually portrayed as a broom stick riding hag, wearing a shawl and covered in soot because she enters houses through the chimney. She visits children on the Eve of the Epiphany, January 5th. If they’re good, she’ll leave them candy and presents in their stocking, if they’re bad, she’ll leave coal, dark candy, onions or garlic. Instead of cookies and milk like we leave for Santa, it is customary to leave Befana a glass of wine with a few morsels of food. Legend has it that Befana was approached by the Three Wise Men, asking for directions to Bethlehem, as they had seen his star in the sky. She did not know, but sheltered them for the night. The magi invited her to join them on their journey, but she declined. Later, she had second thoughts and tried to follow them. She could not find them that night, so to this day, it is said Befana is riding her broom stick searching for the little baby.
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