La Befana

On Epiphany night.

La Befana is an old lady who brings toys to children in parts of Italy on Epiphany night.
The legend is that on their way to deliver presents to Jesus, the Three Kings came across La Befana. They asked her to come with them, but she refused, saying she had too much housework to do. She later realized it had been wrong not to go with them. So she ran off with her broom in search of the Kings, bearing her own presents for the baby Jesus. But she never caught up to them.


Three men, riding camels

had stopped by her home

and asked for assistance.

Could she help them deliver

some birthday presents?

Alas, they were met

by her stubborn resistance.

She had said she could not

neglect the housework

but now, on reflection,

knew she’d been wrong

and given the impression

of being a dork.

With a sack full of gifts,

she jumped on her broom,

put it into first gear

and flew through the sky

without any fear.

She chased after them

but they were long gone.

It was at this point

that the silly Befana

realised she had acted

like a proper nana.

What to do with the toys

she had packed in haste?

To throw them away

would be a terrible waste.

Better maybe donate them

to good girls and boys.

The kids appreciated

the old lady’s largesse

and her initiative

was such a success

that she repeated it

every year after that.


© Luigi Pagano  2017


© ionicus 2023
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Enjoyed the tale, thanks,
Cheers, Gerald.


Hello Luigi,I really enjoyed reading about La Befana. I can imagine the Children’s anticipation on that day.
We have a similar custom in Germany on St Nicholas Day, the 6th of December, when we used to leave a shoe or a slipper on the windowsill for St.Nicholas to leave some sweets etc.Thank you for sharing Luigi. A happy New Year to you and yours, Peter.


Enjoyed the tale and the poem, Luigi. I love catching legends like this. They help to keep the magic alive in a cynical modern world.


Oh, that’s a lovely story, an English friend living in Belgium told me about their traditions. I find them fascinating and so comforting in this over commercialised hi-tech world.
Sue xx

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