We've moved from Baltimore, Maryland USA to Venice, Italy in pursuit of living our dream!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

La Befana - January 6

January 6- Epiphany- is a National holiday in Italy. Not only does it signify the day the Wise Men arrived bearing gifts for baby Jesus, it is also the day La Befana arrives. And who is La Befana?  In Italy, La Befana is a kind old witch who flies on the night of Jan 5 on a broom, delivering candies and goodies to good children who have left their stockings up for her to fill. Sounds a little like Santa Claus, doesn't it?  January 6 is also the day Italians take down Christmas trees and decorations. It marks the end of the holiday season, sadly. But, on a cheery note, there is this one last celebration to get through!

This kindly old witch is supposedly the same old woman the Wise Men visited as they made their way to Bethlehem. They invited the old woman to come along with them, but she refused. Later in the night she saw the bright star shining in the sky, and set off after the Wise Men in hopes of catching up with them.  All over Italy, on the night of January 5, La Befana delivers candies to good children, and possibly a lump of coal to those who have not been so good.

There is even a special song about La Befana:

The Befana comes by night

With her stockings all tattered and torn
Her hat worn the Roman way
Long life to the Befana!

Celebrations vary throughout the country, ranging from towns hanging enormous stockings in the city center to   cities staging  large fires blazing  which they burn  wicker puppets. Here in Venice, Festa della Befana is a little different.  It's celebrated by having a special regata on the Grand Canal!  Men dressed  in dresses, scarves and wigs race in boats from San Toma to the Rialto bridge. Here are a few photos from last years race.

The regata is tomorrow morning at 11:00 am.  Afterwards there is usually hot chocolate and mulled wine served along Fondamenta del Vin.  What a great way to wind down the holiday season! Bring your cameras, I'll see you there!


Jan Pag said...

Hi Karen, Lovely blog, wish I was there. I have had difficulty posting on your blog for several months, so i'm trying again! if this fails I will email you, Jane

karen said...

Ciao, Jan! This post came through fine. Thanks for being patient. How are you???

Mike and I went to the Rialto to catch the Regata today. We had a good spot, but unfortunately, our photos don't seem to be so good, not nearly as the ones I posted yesterday from last years race! Disappointing, BUT- we did stop for a lovely lunch afterward, the day was saved :)

Anonymous said...

Buongiorno! Have a peek at my blog tomorrow (11 January) for a thank you, to you!

Anonymous said...

Hey Karen,
I had the same problem...my photos this year are not so nice, but the past few years photos were great...maybe the lighting wasn't as good, I dunno...!!!
Maybe I'll see you at next year!