Presentation on theme: "THE ORIGIN OF THE NAME The name derives from Epiphany. It reminds us about the witch Beffania, who flung on the houses roof that night. Once left the."— Presentation transcript:
THE ORIGIN OF THE NAME The name derives from Epiphany. It reminds us about the witch Beffania, who flung on the houses roof that night. Once left the second "f" and the "i" the word turns to Befana!
THE LEGEND One day the three Kings left their country with special gifts such as Gold, Incense and Myrrh, to reach little Jesus Christ because they wanted to give him their presents. They travelled through many different countries guided by a particular star (the famous Comet) and every town they passed by, people run to meet and join them in their journey.
There was only one old woman who wanted to join them. But she changed her mind and stayed at home. The day after, repented and displeased she tried to reach the Kings, but they were too far from her! Therefore the old woman didn't meet the Holy Child neither that time nor ever. Since that time the old woman (called Befana!) visits every house to give the good children all the gifts she didn't give to the Holy Child: to do that she flies on an old broom with a big canvas sack on her shoulders in the night between the 5th and the 6th January (the same night when she, in the past, remained at her home!).
THE BEFANA IN THE PAST In the past, children used to wait for Befana with joy and anxiety, hanging a hand knitted stocking on the fireplace. At that time children deeply believed in this tradition. They used to write long letters to the old woman where they expressed their wishes; but as those were hard times (they were poor) often children were disappointed and the only gifts they received were sweets, nuts, chestnuts and tangerine oranges.
WHERE AND WHEN IS THIS TRADITION BORN ? It is not known where this tradition started to be celebrated, but we can assert that since the XIII th century it is one of the most popular Italian feast long awaited by children. Maybe the old woman - who sometimes fears the children - symbolises the ending Year.
THE "BEFANA" The "Befana" is an ugly old woman who brings gifts to good children on Epiphany Eve. She wears a black shawl on her head and her dress is dirty of soot because she goes into the houses through the chimney. If children had been "bad" instead of sweets or toys they will find onions, garlic and coal in their stockings. That's why during the weeks before Epiphany children try to be more patient, good and obedient than usual. On Epiphany Eve children are very excited and curious. They go to bed very early after they had hung their stockings on the fireplace. On Epiphany day they wake up very early and they hurry to discover what Befana left for them: some children will be very happy, others will feel disappointed.
Many children believe that Befana is Santa's wife and that she lives on the South Pole, while he lives in the North Pole. As Santa Claus is too busy (he has to satisfy all the children of the world!) the Befana helps him in his work some days after Christmas. Some children believe that Befana does really exist, other assert it is only a fancy, because they think that parents put the gifts in their stockings. Nevertheless all of them wait for her with anxiety and trepidation. In some Italian villages, the municipality organises every year, an Epiphany's party during which old women dress up as Befana, and distribute presents, gifts, chocolate, books, pens and sweets to children.