La Befana

La Befana

National Holiday


  • Occurs on Epiphany Eve (January 5th)
  • La Befana: witch-like gift-bringer for children
  • Sweeps away the previous year’s problems
  • Florence hosts elaborate parades
All of Italy
Firenze, Metropolitan City of Florence, Italy
January 5

Occurs annually on the eve of the Epiphany

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La Befana is an annual Italian event that takes place on Epiphany Eve, January 5th, and Epiphany, January 6th. La Befana is a witch-like figure in Italian folklore who brings gifts to children on the night of January 5th. According to the legend, La Befana refused to join the Wise Men on their journey to see baby Jesus, but later regretted her decision and set out to bring gifts to the Child. Now, she leaves gifts for all children in Italy, hoping that one of them might be the baby Jesus.

In Italy, La Befana is celebrated with traditional foods, such as panettone, and families spend the day together. The event is commemorated with bonfires, parades, and live nativity scenes in cities and towns across Italy.

In Florence, the celebrations feature elegantly costumed men on horseback representing the Three Magi, and a live nativity scene in Piazza Duomo. La Befana is a beloved Italian figure and symbolizes the sweeping away of the previous year’s problems, making way for new beginnings.

Event Schedule

January 5th: Bonfires, parades, and live nativity scenes take place in cities and towns across Italy.

January 6th: Families gather to celebrate the Epiphany, attend church, and enjoy traditional Italian foods together.


The La Befana tradition has its roots in ancient pagan beliefs, possibly associated with a Mother Nature goddess symbolizing rebirth. The character of La Befana became popular in Italy in the early 1900s. The Roman Catholic Church began celebrating the Epiphany on January 6th in the 4th century AD. The event is deeply ingrained in Italian culture and is celebrated as a national holiday, with festivities taking place all around the country.

La Befana is celebrated throughout Italy, but it has a special significance in Florence. The city hosts elaborate parades led by elegantly costumed men on horseback representing the Three Magi, and a live nativity scene in Piazza Duomo, a tradition dating back to the 1400s. Even members of the Medici family took part in the procession in the past.

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