5 Jan 2013

Epiphany: Italian Traditions

Twelve days after Christmas on the 6th January is the Christian Festival of the Epiphany.  The word derives from the Greek and means 'the manifestation' or 'the appearing' and Epiphany celebrates the manifestation of Jesus to the world through the visit of the magi who journeyed from the East to bring gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh and to worship Him.

Epiphany tableau, St.Edmund's Church, Castleton, Derbyshire


In Italy the feast of Epiphany (Epifania) is a national holiday.  The night beforehand Italian children await La Befana (an old woman) who is expected to come and leave some sweets in the stocking they have left out for her. According to a story, the three wise men stopped at her house on their way to Bethlehem.  La Befana was asked to join them on their journey.  She refused because she was too busy cleaning her house. Later she changed her mind, set off with a basket of sweets in the hope of joining the wise men, but she was too late and she never found her way to the Christ Child despite stopping at each house, giving out sweets and asking where she could find Him. Every year on the night before Epiphany she still visits children's homes and leaves her gifts.

In our family we have followed the tradition of giving some small gifts of sweets to our children and
grandchildren at Epiphany.




8 comments:

  1. that is a beautiful dish of sweets, this is all news to me, have not heard this story before.

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  2. I did enjoy this, Linda and love the story of La Befana, surely a variant of the Russian legend of Babushka which DH used to read to our children when they were young.

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  3. I too had read the Babushka story, and always felt so sad for her.

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  4. I don't believe I've heard the story of La Befana before. Thank you for sharing it with us.

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  5. That is so interesting to read. Love all these different traditions.

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  6. How lovely and how wonderful that your grandchildren get to celebrate the traditions of both England and Italy.

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  7. I'm sorry, I almost forgot to answer your question about your last visit to my blog. Yes they are peonies, though I don't know their particular name.

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  8. I am not sure Ephiphany is celebrated here. How lovely to have this time after Christmas for a simple celebration.

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