Befana or Epiphany. No matter what, she is the indiscuss queen of Holiday Season that all the festivities take away. Discover together with Roma Luxury what this old lady hides.
She is course, toothless, and unkempt and is depicted as an old woman who is as ugly as she is kind. On Epiphany Eve, she fills children’s stockings just as Santa Claus does elsewhere.
In Italy we wait for her with impatience. Do you want to know why she is so important in the Italian tradition?
La Befana, for the people, passes to earth on the night between 5 and 6 January. Imagine this…The world is full of flowers, the animals are fabulous, the waters of flowers and springs turn into gold. Children await gifts; the young women draw their horoscopes on the future wedding, placing the olive leaves on the hot ashes; boys and adults, in a group, go to the village singing the song of the strenna (Befana), or prepare, here and there, the bonfires, between sounds and dins. It’s a magic atmosphere.
Behind the crippling that has transformed the term Epiphany into Befana, there is a series of ancient traditions that have managed, laboriously, to challenge the millennia and to reach us.
The origin of the Befana is in the agricultural and pastoral world. In fact, the twelfth night after the winter solstice, we celebrated the death and rebirth of nature, through the figure of Mother Nature. In this night Mother Nature, tired from having given all her energies during the year, appeared in the form of an old and benevolent witch, who flew through the skies with a broom. By now dry, Mother Nature was ready to be burned like a branch, so that she could be reborn from the ashes like young Nature, a new moon. The Romans believed that in these twelve nights, which represent the twelve months of the innovative Roman calendar, female figures flew over the cultivated fields, to propitiate the fertility of future crops, hence the myth of the “flying” figure.
To better understand this figure we must go up to the period of ancient Rome. Already the ancient Romans celebrated the beginning of the year with festivals in honor of the god Janus (and hence the name Januarius in the first month of the year) and the goddess Strenia (and hence the word strenna as a synonym of gift). These parties were called Sigillaria; greetings and gifts were exchanged in the form of clay, or bronze, and even gold and silver figurines. These statuettes were called sigilla, from the Latin sigillum, diminutive of signum, statue. The Sigillaria were expected above all from the children who received as gifts their seals (usually sweet dough) in the form of dolls and small animals. This tradition of gifts and wishes took root so deeply in people that the Church had to tolerate it and adapt it to its doctrine.
There is another curious legend about the old lady of the Twelfth Night.
According to a popular story, the Three Wise Men, headed to Bethlehem to bring gifts to the Christ child, they could not find the way, so they decided to ask information to an old woman. Although the three insisted to follow them to visit the new arrival, but the old woman did not leave the house to accompany them. Later, repenting that she had not gone with them, after having prepared a basket of sweets, she left the house and began to look for them, without succeeding. So she stopped at every house she found along the way, giving candy to the children she met, in the hope that one of them was the Baby Jesus. From then she would go around the world, giving presents to all the children, to be forgiven.
Today according to tradition, the Befana is a very old woman who flies on a worn broom, to visit children in the night between 5 and 6 January, the night of the Epiphany, and fill the socks left hanging on the fireplace or near a window. Legend tells that children who behaved well during the year will receive sweets, candies, nuts or small toys. But whoever has done the brat will find the socks filled with coal or garlic.
And you? Your sock will be full of sweets or coal?
From December 8th, Rome dressed up for Holidays occasion. She is immersed in a glittering and enlightened atmosphere to welcome Santa Claus and now the old lady of the Twelfth Night. In the beautiful Eternal City the Befana is waiting more than in another city, maybe for her origins linked to the Ancient Rome.
Every year the city prepare a special celebration. In the night between 5 and 6 January the appointment is in Piazza Navona for the traditional celebrations dedicated to the most famous old lady in Italy. In the square full of stalls, the Befana will arrive to visit young and old. So do not miss this festivity of 6 January, where you can find the famous Befana socks, coal, giant donuts and many other sweets.
Another unmissable appointment that will celebrate the Epiphany is the historical and folkloristic parade at Saint Peter Square. This parade organized to reaffirm and pass on the values of the Epiphany. Over 1300 people appearing in costumes, horses, Roman chariots, flag-wavers, musical bands, 20 horses, a carriage, three luxurious vintage cars and the Befane will color your day. The event ends with the Three Wise Men who bring three symbolic gifts to Pope Francis and you will see that it is able to “feel adults like a children and make children feel a little less adults”.
If you do not know the Eternal City or if you want to rediscover it in a new, shining and luxury light, this is the ideal time to take full advantage of the wonders of this beautiful city.
We at Roma Luxury assure every kind of comfort to our travelers. Site seeing, unique tours and emotional shopping. Our mission is to give the high-end tourist, the best time of their life in Rome by satisfy any luxury traveler needs and wants. We personally choose, based on high quality and service, all the offerings we propose to our clientele. Shopping like a Star… Treated as a VIP… Experience the real Italian Excellences!
Roma Luxury has thought to dedicate to you a special Epiphany offer. With our Roma Luxury Gift Card, valid until July 2018, you can buy one of our special and exclusive luxury tour and get one free.
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