Updated: Jan 4
The story of La Befana (pronounced bay-fan-ah) dates back centuries in Italy. It is said that Befana is an old woman who travels by broom around Italy on January 5, the eve of the Feast of the Epiphany and delivers goodies to children in their Christmas stockings or shoes - a similar tradition to St. Nicolaus in the United States celebrated on December 6.
The epiphany marks 12 days after the birth of Jesus when the Magi arrived at the manger bearing gifts. According to the legend, she turned down the invitation to travel with the Magi to meet baby Jesus. She regretted her decision, and set out on her own to bring gifts to the manger by following the Star of Bethlehem. Never finding it, she vowed to bring gifts on this day to other children. To celebrate la Befana, some make cookies in the shape of the Star of Bethlehem to celebrate, just like Mamacita made!