Wednesday, January 6, 2010

La Befana Doll and Visit

Befana, fine and wise old crone,
Bless the doorway of my home,
Watch as winter passes by,
Come as maid when spring is nigh.

As an Italian tradition relatively new to our home, we officially celebrated our first Befana Festival. Tony's father is 100% Italian, but as a child, Tony never partook in this fun holiday. I blogged a bit about it last week here.

With a little help from the amazing momma Jenn at Our Little Nature Nest and a friend of mine from Napoli, we were on our way.

We first made these adorable rag Befana dolls to hang in our doorway so that she would know to stop at our house this year. Using some scrap, we ripped them into small strips and wrapped them around a pine cone (you can use anything relatively round - like a wool felted ball for example) and tied them off at the neck. You could mark eyes on her if you want, but our scraps naturally lay to the sides, leaving two nice little holes which symbolized the eyes, so I just left it that way. We then made a babushka for her and tied a string around her neck to *hang her* by our front door.

Then we hung her last night and got some of Daddy's wool socks to lay under the tree for La Befana. The tradition of *hanging* her is symbolic of the cycle of life, the passing of the old to make way for the new (spring).

The two hooligans happily posed for this shot with La Befana :D

And this morning, they woke to find some little goodies tucked inside Daddy's stockings and Mommy enjoyed a nicely swept floor!

Here is some information I received from my friend Luigia (Gina) about how she celebrated La Befana as a child in Italy:

I've always liked the Befana and it's always been celebrated in our house. January 6th is the day when kids get their stockings (rather than at Christmas) and more toys.

As far as I am concerned, I vividly remember those nights I was anticipating the arrival of the Befana. We would leave our socks (preferably the long ones) under the Christmas tree (in Italy the tree comes down after Jan. 6) before going to bed, and we'd find them in the morning filled with candies if we had been good, or coal if we had been less-than-good :) I remember receiving coal too.....but it was the candied, sugary one......really good!!

We'd also receive toys--my brothers and I received most of the toys on January 6 rather than on Christmas day. It was very fun!!! The witch was ugly and scary but she'd bring us lots of cool stuff if we were good.

Happy La Befana Day!


  1. Neat post! It's weird because last night I was watching Rick Steve's Europe on last night and he was in a village, in Italy where they celebrated this. The village was known for these dolls. I'm not sure what the village was called, it was on the Swiss Italian border. :O)

  2. Hi Jen.
    Really interesting to read about this festival. I must ask our Italian family members about this and find out if they celebrate it. Never heard of this before! Lovely post as always!
    Best wishes