La Befana: a cross between Halloween and Christmas
When my husband was a young boy, the only holiday gifts most children received were those on January 6 for la Befana, or Epiphany. A stocking full of goodies was given to Italian children (coal was put in the stocking for those who misbehaved). The main character of this tradition is la Befana, a witch who rides a broomstick and fills the children’s stockings during the night. In Rome’s Piazza Navona, every year there is an enormous outdoor market where pre-filled stockings, candies, toys and Befana dolls are sold. It is the main place where families go to choose a surprise for their children. Buona Epifania!