"Le Befana..." Top 5 Page for this destination Padova Local Custom Tip by mapakettle
Padova Local Customs: 54 reviews and 86 photos
January 6 is the magical day that Le Befana does her thing, and coincidentally her day of break and enter just 'happens' to fall on the Feast of the Epiphany. This does not replace Christmas, but is simply an added day of excitement for the youngsters.
Later in the day, traps must be set to tempt the old witch into the city center, because somehow she is apprehended, tied to a stake, and set on fire. This symbolizes 'Out with the old, in with the new'. Strangely enough, this occurs every year, with the same old witch falling for the same old trick.
La Befana is an ancient witch with a big wart on top of her nose, wearing an old coat patched with colorful swatches of material. She wears old black shoes that have seen better days, and flies around on a broom carrying a large sack over her shoulder filled with sweets and presents for children in Italy. She enters the houses much like Santa does through the chimneys and deposits the presents inside old socks hung on the mantel or on the bedposts. This is done in very short order, and surprisingly, nary a house alarm is discharged.
Legend goes that children who have been bad throughout the year will find their stockings filled with coal instead of toys. However, this must be an old wives tale, because there are no such recorded events ever occuring in Italy.
It is a big deal for the children in Italy. It is also a great boost to merchants in mobile vans who set up huge displays of candy, including red and black coal-like lumps of sugar crystal.
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