Befana from Goddess to Santa Claus

Kathy Kenzora of Karma is a great local entrepreneur and now a friend.  Opening in 2011, Karma is small independent Furniture and House Decor Consignment Shop in the Village of Clarkson, Mississauga.  You can imagine all the interesting items that pass through shops like this and it’s such a pleasure for me to tease out the story of as many items as I can.

Last week in a box of porcelain ornaments from “Around the World”, I spotted this.  As you know my education is in Anthropology and I own a web based business called FeeFiFoFun Costume Concierge.  Halloween is a Cultural tradition that fascinates me and I wondered immediately how a witch on a broom stick ends up as a Christmas ornament.


I found the tale of Befana of Italy, an old woman wearing black, riding a broomstick with a sack over her shoulder.  She’s covered in soot because it’s said she enters people’s houses through the chimney.  Well she looks like freaky morph of a Halloween witch and a Christmas Santa Claus, but that’s too simple.

Like many legends, Befana’s origins have become foggy over the centuries changing to meet the needs of the current society.  Reports of Befana can be found in the Pagan Roman Strina to Eve of the birth of Christ, but currently Italian children can put their socks out to be filled with candies by her for Epiphany on January 5th.



Italy even has the Befana Regatta where adults dress and compete in a boating contest, but Italian kids have got it best  because they get goodies from both Father Christmas and Befana!

For more detail on this interesting character, here is a good link.

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