In the night between the 5th and the 6th of January children know that Befana, a sweet granny with an imposing nose, armed with broomstick and a big bag, will fly up in the sky to leave gifts. But not all children can enjoy this privilege, in fact cakes will be donated only to children who have been good, in contrast, for disobedient children, the witch will give coal, a sign of their bad behavior.
But how did the legend of this fantastic figure start? Epiphany has very ancient origins, in fact the term derives from the Greek word Epiphàneia, a word that indicates fertility. And it was fertility that the goddess Diana gave to the fields by flying over them during the night between the 5th and the 6th of January, making the harvest abundant.
The figure of Befana is also connected to other legends that have been handed down and modified over the years, to arrive today to the feast that we all know and celebrate every year on January the 6th. Among many legends the most original is certainly the smoke of bonfires. In some regions of northern Italy, during this magical night, bonfires were lit and the elderly, the wisest men in the place, depending on the direction of the wind, made predictions that would affect the year of all citizens.
The Christian religion instead sets aside all the legends and binds to January the 6th, one of the most important religious festivals of the year, as the Epiphany in fact matches the arrival of the Magi to the manger where baby Jesus was born. It ‘so hard to find one version of the story of the Epiphany as it is a very ancient festivity linked to superstitions, popular beliefs and pure fantasy.
Throughout Italy this festivity means that the holidays are over. Because of the conclusion of the Christmas holidays, many cities and many countries tend to celebrate this event. For example, in Reggio Emilia, Gattatico, the Epiphany is celebrated with attractions and shows for children and adults. During the celebration the figure of Befana is the protagonist and, in Gattatico, she is locked up within the walls of a tower. It will be the Prince Charming that with his arrival will set the witch free so that she will be able to give sweets.
Even in Montecchio Emilia Epiphany is a day to celebrate. During the day, in this town in the province of Reggio Emilia, the kids can watch a movie at the end of which will get to know the long-awaited Befana who will draw lots sweets for everyone present.
Do you want to spend this holiday between relaxation and traditional food? Visit us at our Locanda Le Due Querce for an escape from stress!