Encounter the Befana in Valletta
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Encounter the Befana in Valletta

Italy’s popular folklore figure of the Befana is the guest of the next Magic Box event at the Italian Cultural Institute, St George’s Square, Valletta, tomorrow, at 6.30pm.

After delivering her gifts the Befana sweeps the floor of the houses she visits with her magic broomstick.After delivering her gifts the Befana sweeps the floor of the houses she visits with her magic broomstick.

According to Italian tradition the Befana is portrayed as a smiling old hag riding a magic broomstick through the air wearing a black shawl and carrying a bag, and covered in soot because she enters houses through their chimney to deliver gifts to children on the eve of the feast of the Epiphany.

Children all over Italy very much look forward to the Befana’s visit and this ‘second Christmas for children’. Similar to Santa Claus, she fills the Christmas stockings of good children with sweets and presents, or a lump of coal or a stick if they are bad. The child’s family typically leaves a small glass of wine and a plate with a few morsels of food for the Befana. Being a good housekeeper, she will sweep the floor before she leaves. This was understood as the sweeping away of the problems of the previous year.

The name Befana is thought to come from l’Epifania, the Italian word for Epiphany, which itself is a Latin word with Greek origins meaning “manifestation (of the divinity)”.

The event at the Italian Cultural Institute will be characterised by some treats and lots of games and activities for children and adults.

Children are reminded to bring along their Christmas stockings to see what the Befana will put in them, depending on whether they’ve been good or bad.

The encounter with the Befana will take place at the Italian Cultural Institute, St George’s Square, Valletta, tomorrow at 6.30pm. All children (and adults who are young at heart) are welcome to join in the fun.

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