Our family always celebrated the holidays in a big way, especially Christmas! There is something wonderful and magical about maintaining traditions. In our family, the Christmas season begins on Christmas Eve and ends on January 6th! The Feast of the Epiphany is when Christians around the world celebrate the symbolic day. The day the Three Kings visited baby Jesus in the manger.
The nativity scene we enjoy setting up every year.
In Italy, it is a national holiday, where shops and schools are closed. It’s also when children open their gifts which have been placed under the tree or inside their stockings, similar to our Santa Claus, they have La Befana. It’s a joyful day, followed by a feast of food served for the entire family and friends to enjoy.
The legendary story of the Befana, known as La Vecchia, is about the old woman Befana who was asked by the Three Kings to come along with them in search to find the Child King, born in Bethlehem. She refused, but then later decided to go out in search for the Three Kings and this baby boy, the son of God they talked about.
She went looking for days with her broom, taking some bread along with her. Every time she saw a baby boy, she would break off a piece of her bread and give it to the child, thinking that he might be the Child King who would recognize her.
Today, every year on the Feast of epiphany, or Three Kings, the children of Italy eagerly await the arrival of “la vecchia,” who still leaves each child a small gift.