According to the Christian Italian tradition, January 6th is Epiphany Day, the day when the “Befana”, a good old witch, comes in every home by night to fill the children’s stockings with candies.
How do we celebrate Epiphany in Italy? Everyone takes to the streets, gathering in the mayor squares of the city, mainly where the Christmas Markets are.
But this is also the day when the Three Kings arrive to Bethlem to visit the Baby Jesus to give him their gifts.
And just as every year, Florence dress up for the festive day: Santa Maria Del Fiore foundation sets up a beautiful and suggestive parade: the Cavalcade of the Three Kings will perform throughout the whole city centre, inspired by a Florentine tradition back from XV Century.
The Three Kings by riding their horses will lead the procession made of about 700 people that will start from Piazza Pitti at 2pm in the afternoon, walking to Piazza Duomo, where the kings will give their presents to a living Nativity scene.
Later on, there will be a lecture of the Gospel and a traditional closing performance with several coloured balloons released up in the sky.
The Catholic tradition tells the story of an old woman holding a broom that refused the invitation of the Three Kings to come along with them in order to reach together the cave in Bethlem to give him the gifts. Later on, she got lost but she saw a great light and she decided to catch up by following it.
Since that night on, the good old witch flies on her broom - in the night between January 5th and 6th - bringing gifts to the children and hoping to find Baby Jesus.
Here the religious tradition blends with the Italian folklore: every year, the parents fills children stockings with candies, chocolate and presents but also with some sweet coal, for all the little bad things that the kids did throughout the year. The children use to prepare coffee and some food to give to the Befana, so that she can warm and rest when she arrives by the cold night.
Whether you are a child or an adult do not forget to hang up your stockings!
Enjoy the Epifania in Florence and say goodbye to the Christmas holidays in a tasty way!
See you soon,