”La Befana“ is the name of the witch who ancient legend says bears gifts to children on January 6th, the Day of the Magi, also known as the Feast of the Epiphany. In fact, Befana’s name comes from the Greek word ”epifania“ or ”epiphany.“  It is a belief upheld until this day in Italy, and La Befana is embraced in the hearts and minds of Italian children and their families even more than Santa Claus. 

In honor of his half Italian ancestry, Skafish (Jim Skafish) gave his new record label the La Befana name, and he says, ”to deliver the gift of the most entertaining and leading-edge Christmas musical arrangements for the listening delight of our audience.“  Skafish also draws a parallel between the image of La Befana and his own, given the character’s prodigious nose and large feet, but goodhearted and benevolent nature.

As the legend goes, the three wise men, or Magi, guided by a bright star, left their respective countries bearing special gifts of gold, incense and myrrh for the new-born Christ child.  At every village they journeyed through, people ran to meet them and accompany them to their destination.

But there was one old woman who did not join the three wise men. She claimed to be too busy with her housework, not realizing the sacred mission they were on. The next day, as she realized her error, she ran frantically after them with gifts for the divine child, her broom still clutched in her hands. But it was too late the Magi were gone.

Ever since then the old woman has been known as ”La Befana“ or simply ”Befana.“ On the eve of January 6th, Befana flies from house to house on her old broomstick and delivers all the gifts she didn’t give to the Holy Child to good girls and boys.

Celebration of the Epiphany can be traced as far back as the 13th century and is one of the most popular Italian feasts.  Children of today know Befana as an old witch who flies a broom and wears a black shawl, with a dress underneath dirty with soot from the chimneys she climbs down to deliver her gifts. For the good children she brings sweets, toys and books. For the ill-behaved children, she brings onions, garlic and coal.

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