Published: 19-10-2012, 07:42

Christmas in Italy: Epiphany

Christmas in Italy

Christmas in Italy: Christmas Markets

Christmas in Italy: Pre-Christmas Celebrations and Observances

Christmas in Italy: Nativity Scenes and Ceppos

Christmas in Italy: Christmas Eve

Christmas in Italy: Christmas Day

Christmas in Italy: New Year

La Befana, the traditional Italian gift bringer, arrives on January 6, Epiphany. Many children write letters to La Befana in the weeks preceding Epiphany describing the kind of gifts they would like to receive (see also children’s letters). On Epiphany Eve they leave their stockings by the fire, and the next morning they find them filled with presents. Many young people celebrate Epiphany by gathering in the streets and welcoming Epiphany and La Befana with horn blasts and other forms of noisemaking. In some parts of Italy Santa Claus now competes with La Befana for the affections of Italian children.

In some Italian cities people give gifts to traffic policemen on Epiphany. As the day wears on, mounds of presents, such as fruit baskets, wine, and food, pile up around the stands from which they direct traffic. This practical custom probably offers those who practice it the hope that small traffic infractions will be ignored in the coming year.