|An artist's impression of Befana
Children in Bergamo will have been hoping to find that Befana had left them presents when they woke up this morning.
Although Christmas is virtually over, 6 January is the day when a kind witch visits the good children in Italy and leaves them presents. If they have been naughty they are supposed to receive a lump of coal and if they have been stupid they are supposed to receive only a carrot. But many children throughout Italy will have been expecting some good presents from Befana today.
Befana is also sometimes referred to as La Vecchia (the old woman) and La Strega (the witch). But she is supposed to be a similar character to Saint Nicholas or Santa Claus.
It is believed her name derives from La Festa dell’Epifania (the feast of the Epiphany).
Befana is usually portrayed in illustrations as an old lady riding a broomstick, wearing a black shawl and covered in soot because she enters the children’s homes through the chimney.
Lucky children in Bergamo may have already received presents from Santa Claus and wake up today to find another delivery from Befana.