On the 6th day of January we celebrate the “Feast of the Epiphany” in Western Christianity. The feast commemorates the visit of the 3 wise Kings to Jesus after his birth bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, myrrh.
In Italy and in particular Sicily, long before there was “Babbo Natale” ( Santa Claus) there was “La Befana” who slid down the chimneys to deliver children gifts. In Italian folklore, “La Befana” is portrayed as an old woman dressed in black and riding around on a broomstick. She comes on the eve of the Epiphany similar to the 3 wise Kings and leave gifts for those on the “nice” list and coal for those on the “naughty” list. Many say she will sweep the floor before she leaves which symbolized the sweeping away of the problems of the year and also the official end of the holiday season!