Even though every family has its own traditions and recipes, there are some common traits up and down the country. Legend of old befana by tomie depaola book study and craft. If you want to teach your children about christmas traditions from. This folk tale tells the origin of old befana, who is too busy with her housework to follow the magi to find baby jesus. Now we are ready to learn about christmas in italy. The christmas witch italian tradition alt christmas. His story also broadens the character of the eccentric old recluse of the small italian village. The legend of befana began thousands of years ago and is still practiced by italian children and families to this day. I also love the magical quality of the christmas witch as it hearkens back to my favorite holiday, halloween. All about christmas free activities mexico italy and germany. An italian christmas story, retold and illustrated. It is celebrated on the 6 th 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. Jan 18, 2020 christmas trees and giftgiving have long been staples of italian christmas, il natale.
Peters square in rome is a wonderful place at christmas. Once again, as it often happens in italy, history, religion and peoples habits mingle with one another and create that outstanding jewel that. The celebration of befana, who flies across the sky on twelfth night, leaving cakes and cookies for children as they sleep, is a beloved story in europe. The legend of old befana in italy, old befana visits children while they sleep and leaves them gifts at christmas. Life in italy is a blog about italy and italian culture. On the other side were the many folk and pagan traditions connected to the new year, and. I read this book to my students every december when i teach christmas around the world. The italianspanish coproduction was directed by michele soavi and features a 500yearold befana who works as a schoolteacher by day. Gifts are exchanged, little traditional markets trail off those, usually larger, prepared for christmas, and we usually gather, once again, around gargantuan amounts of delicious food. Venice in the veneto region on january 6 is the location of regatta delle bafane. Legend of old befana and legend of the poinsettia bundle by.
Old befana christmas in italy, christmas books, italian christmas. The name befana is a popular version of the greek term epiphany which was the festivity following christmas, commemorating the visit of the magi to the baby jesus on 6th january. On the one side was the christian tradition of the epiphany, the first revelation of christ as man and god to the magi who came with gifts for the messiah. The holiday also marks the end of christmas and new years festivities in italy, after which children go back to school, adults go back to work. Especially the children look forward to the start of the christmas season in december when christmas trees are put up and houses are decorated. Rather than setting out milk and cookies, many italian families will set out chestnuts. Festive traditions with the most joyous time of year approaching for family occasions, festivities and fun. Best italian christmas traditions you can enjoy in italy duration. The legend of old befana by tomie depaola with images. The christmas spirit is all a buzz and it is so fun. The italianlanguage christmas fantasy comedy film the legend of the christmas witch italian.
Too busy sweeping to help the three wise men search for baby jesus. Although these days most children receive gifts on christmas, its still a fun day of celebrations, festivals, and small gifts and sweets. It is timeworn only by its many versions, and tomie depaolas retelling is unique in its resplendent settings and carefully researched detail. The feast of the epiphany, an important postchristmas date on the christian calendar, is celebrated on january 6 as a national holiday in italy. A festivity dear to children and adults, it has ancient origins and a fantastic background story.
According to legend, every year, on the night of january 5th, befana, will travel on her magic broom, to every house in italy. She arrives on epiphany eve january 5th, bearing candy and gifts for good children, and leaving coal for the naughty ones. One of my favorite winter traditions is the celebration of epiphany in italy 6th of january. This is the last week we are in school for december. What we nowadays call the befana is an image coming from immemorial layers of cultures and symbols. In italy, there are a number of celebrations during the christmas season, and there are some great childrens books that highlight these celebrations. For the good children she brings sweets, toys and books. I read this book to my students every december when i teach. Although these days most children receive gifts on christmas, its still a fun day of celebrations. However, there is even a more ancient and popular italian christmas tradition that has its origins traced back to the th century. The italian spanish coproduction was directed by michele soavi and features a 500yearold befana who works as a schoolteacher by day.
If they were bad, they would find their shoes filled with coal. I love the story of the three kings, the biblical tiein to the giving of gifts in a non santaheavy way. The holiday also marks the end of christmas and new years festivities in italy, after which children go back to school, adults go back to work, and the christmas decorations come down. Italy has been a strong christian based culture for generations and through the years has adopted christmas into their traditions. Best italian christmas traditions you can enjoy in italy. The christmas witch travels by broomstick and is known to sneak into a. One of the best ways that ive found to introduce kids to customs and traditions from various countries is by reading stories.
Strenia in italian a christmas gift used to be called strenna, celebrated at the. Italy epiphany celebration le befana, three wise men, gifts. Attending midnight mass and eating a meatless dinner on christmas eve is an important part of christmas in italy. This is a delightful reading of the favorite italian christmas story about an eccentric old woman. In the book vestiges of ancient manners and customs, discoverable in. However, unlike all children around the world, for the children of italy, there is something even more exciting. The italian language christmas fantasy comedy film the legend of the christmas witch italian. All about christmas free activities mexico italy and. See more ideas about italian christmas, christmas in italy and witch.
The difference is that italian children wake up to presents on january 6th instead of christmas morning. The christmas witch travels by broomstick and is known to sneak into a home through the chimney. House cleaning witches on brooms, candy or coal in stockings, and all in the name of the biblical holiday of the epiphany. Her story has been adapted over and over to fit into a variety of different social or religious structures. Befana is an interesting folk tradition in italy that keeps the children behaving and something to look forward to after the christmas and new year holidays. Italian boys and girls who have been very good during the year get a visit from st. Befana, the christmas witch, is a popular figure in italian folklore. Of course, italians celebrate new years eve san silvestro or the vigilia and new years day capodanno, like the rest of the west, and finally, they celebrate the day of the epiphany or epifania, on january 6, personified by the figure of the befana. Christmas in italy is celebrated over several weeks as italians celebrate from early december, depending on the region, until the day of epiphany, on the 6th of january. Some of the cultural differences for the merriest time of the year vary between england and italy. The christmas season in italy is one that begins with the novena eight days before christmas and lasts until the feast of the epiphany on january 6th.
Lore has it that the befana, an old witchlooking lady on a broom with a pointy hat and long skirt, was invited by the magi to help them take. Jan 05, 2017 today, befana is celebrated throughout all of italy, with children hanging up their stockings similar to the very american tradition of santa claus or putting out their shoes for befana to fill on january 5, the night before the feast of the epiphany. Learn about italian christmas traditions to share with your family. If the children were good, their shoes would be filled on christmas morning.
To surprise the kids in the class they will be given coal candy. After all, giftgiving predates modern consumerism by millennia, and italian shops and city centers have long traditions of decorating and making things for christmaseven when things were more modest. Here are 30 diverse christmas around the world books. She brings candy, toys, books, and fruit to the childr. In italian folklore, befana is an old woman who delivers gifts to children throughout italy on. In parts of southern italy, families eat a meal of seven fishes. An italian christmas story library binding april 9, 2009. Today, befana is celebrated throughout all of italy, with children hanging up their stockings similar to the very american tradition of santa claus or putting out their shoes for befana to fill on january 5, the night before the feast of the epiphany. This book is wonderfully written and has beautiful illustrations. Like all children around the world, italian kids also look forward to the arrival of the fat bearded man we call santa claus on christmas eve. Find all the books, read about the author, and more.1103 416 105 1318 1575 1075 588 174 98 1301 473 616 865 1088 1318 822 819 1042 147 501 477 1506 185 1156 1533 1315 1389 422 1468 217 1270 464 1479 92 1181 853