La Befana is an old Italian Christmas tradition dated at the 13th century. It is celebrated on the 6th of January, the day of the Epiphany, a Christian feast day that celebrates the revelation of God in his Son as human in Jesus Christ.
On the night of January 5th “La Befana” travels on her magic broom, to every house in Italy bringing gifts. Climbing down the chimneys, she brings candy to the children that were good and black coal (sweet!) to the children that were naughty. The children use to leave out their Christmas stockings hoping to awake on the morning of January 6th with some candies. Similar to the Santa Claus tradition, many of the children write notes to “La Befana” and even leave out food and wine for her.
It is a tradition that is still strong in Italy with many stores selling stockings, mostly red, but sometimes even sand-colored, for the children to leave out for “La Befana”. It is a fairy-tale story of the good witch / bad witch, depending on how you behaved during the past year.
La Befana in Rome: Celebrations, Traditions and Folklore
La Befana is one of the most fun festivals throughout the year, no matter whether if you are young or not. Among sweets, music and celebrations, it is certainly a fun feast for everyone.
The Befana’s headquarter in Rome is Piazza Navona: you can find a market with dozens of food and gift stalls and the traditional merry-go-round.
Parade of the Magi: Friday, January 6th 1300 participants in ancient costume will escort the Magi to deliver three symbolic gifts to Pope Francis. The march will start at 10 am from the beginning of Via della Conciliazione and will arrive in St. Peter’s Square. The parade is accompanied by flag bearers, marching bands, horses and a carriages and many Befane.
This year the Befana will wait for the children at the Rome Biopark. You can participate to many recreational and educational initiatives aimed at families to spend a day of celebration with the animals that inhabit the Biopark.
Take advantage of this feast day to have a walk through the streets of Rome and admire its Christmas lights. Do not miss Piazza Mignanelli with the Christmas Tree decorated by the creative directors of Maison Valentino.
Continue along Via del Corso, Via Condotti, Piazza San Lorenzo in Lucina, Via del Babuino, the Spanish Steps, these are just some of the streets festively illuminated that will make you live a magical atmosphere.
At the intersection of Via del Corso and Via Condotti you can admire the Palazzo Fendi decorations, more and more beautiful every year.