La Befana Story – Italy Christmas Witch Legend

La Befana Story – Italy Christmas Witch Legend

La Befana Witch Story Tied to 3 Wise Men of Biblical Christmas

A Good Witch at Disney’s EPCOT tells the legendary story in this YouTube video

In this Epcot tale of the Italian legend, La Befana lived on the road the three wise men took on their journey to Bethlehem. Guided by His star, the wise men were on camels with gifts for the Christ child. They approached La Befana’s house as she was busy working and asked her if she wanted to join them on their journey.

As the story goes, she turned down the offer but later her town was buzzing with the news of the baby king. She realized that she should have gone with the wise men.  Gathering a gift to bring, she searched for His brilliant star to find Him but sadly His star was gone.

However, she did not give up.  2,000 years later on the Eve of the Epiphany, she flies on her broom and climbs down the chimneys of Italian homes.  She looks at the faces of sleeping children hoping to see the Christ Child.  Just in case this is the Christ child . . . she leaves a gift.

Epcot’s Good Witch concludes her story by sharing about Christmas in Italy.  She says the holidays are a time of great joy with Italian families enjoying food, dancing and time together with generations of relatives.  A wonderful ending to a wonderful retelling of the story of the Italian legend.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is La Befana?

Legend of Old Befana - Tomie DePaola

La Befana is Italy’s Good Christmas Witch Legend.  The Italian equivalent of Santa Claus is Babbo Natale, however, the true giver of gifts in Italy is La Befana. La Befana is an old crone who delivers gifts to deserving girls and boys on Epiphany.

When is La Befana Holiday Celebrated?

The Befana is a Christmas witch that comes 12 days after Christmas on January 6. January 6 is Epiphany and is a celebration of the visit by the three wise men to the baby Jesus. La Befana is derived from Epifania, the Italian for Epiphany.

What is the History of the Story?

In the distant past the people of Italy thought La Befana was evil. They rang clay bells and made noise to keep her away. Now she is viewed as a gentle spirit that will give gifts to the children of Italy.

What is the Folklore Tradition?

Much like some of the legends of Santa Claus there are many variations of the story.

She is depicted riding on a broomstick.  She is covered in soot because she comes in through the chimney.

Good news . . . she is a great housekeeper and may even sweep your floors.  Some say she sweeps away the problems of the year.

In true Italian tradition, the child’s family typically leaves a plate of food and a glass of wine for her.

What gifts does the good witch bring?

One interesting variation is that La Befana leaves gifts in every house she visits in case one of them happens to be the Christ Child.

Often her presents are chocolates and sweets.  If a child is particularly naughty she is said to leave a lump of coal in their house which is similar to America’s Santa Claus naughty and nice tale but her story has a Biblical tie in.

La Befana Poem

According to Wikipedia, there are several poems about La Befana.  Here is one:

The Befana comes by night
With her shoes all tattered and torn
She comes dressed in the Roman way
Long live the Befana!

National Urbania hosts Festival

Each year Urbania hosts the national Befana festival. This YouTube video captures Italian families having a fun time enjoying music, parades and dancing with Italy’s good witch.

The Night of La Befana illustrated book tells the legend’s story

The book is available on Amazon:


  • Meredith says:

    This is perfect. i was searching for a really long time for the right story and i finally got it. Thank you very much. This is very helpful.!!!!

  • I have a lovely 2 track subtitled bilingual Italian-English DVD of the Befana story.

  • Marie says:

    Amazing, my husband was born in Italy to a Military family and so he spent some of his childhood years with this story. He just told me about the legend and I had to look it up. He was very young and I am amazed that he almost remembers this legend word for word.

  • Gary says:

    I was told about this “Italian female Santa” over 40 years ago. Although the story that was told to me was that she had stolen the Magis’ gifts, and realizing her mistake, she was now giving gifts to all the children, since she did not know which child was the Christ Child.

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