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Befana arrives in Umbria (from the Giornale dell’Umbria)

Today (Jan. 6) is Epiphany. Last night, Befana, a witch of sorts, came through Umbria delivering candy to the good children and coal to the bad. While the Three Kings are the central figures of the Epiphany elsewhere in Europe, in central Italy it is all about “that dear, likeable old woman.” There are various Christian traditions about Befana (whose name seems to be derived from the Greek ‘Epiphania’). The ‘likeable’ version is that she was a good housekeeper whom the Magi encountered on their way to Bethlehem. They offered to take her with them to meet the baby Jesus, but she was too busy sweeping. When she realized that Jesus was the Redeemer, she changed her mind and she now spends the nights between Christmas and the Epiphany searching for him.

In Central Italy, La Befana may be associated with a pre-Christian pagan goddess. In the town of Urbania, in the Marche region of Italy, a Befana festival is held every year between January 2 and 6.

Micah quickly picked up on the Befana tradition and last night he expectantly hung up his Peppa Pig stocking.

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Micah’s Peppa Pig stocking. It is supposed to go outside the window, but it was raining last night. We figured that Befana would be able to see it through the balcony door.

This morning, Micah’s stocking was filled with Kinder and other treats:

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Here’s what Micah knows about Befana:

“Befana is a witch who gives children candy, but only if they are good. She is a really old witch.”

Although most kids think she flies on a broom, La Befana arrived in Perugia this morning by a variety of conveyances.

First, she came on a city cleaning truck (she is, after all, very good at sweeping):

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Next she arrived in a Classic Fiat 500:

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And then two of her zoomed through the piazza on a motorcycle and sidecar:

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Micah waited patiently for La Befana to notice him and then he finally got his little sock stuffed with candy:

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