Saturday, January 5

Italy has an Epiphany

January 6th marks the day we all get to have extra holidays in Italy.  That's because no one truly considers working between Christmas and New Years and not even between New Years (the Feast Day of Stephen-Santo Stefano) & the Epiphany, or La Befana - marked by the arrival of that old gift bearing kitchen witch floating by on a broomstick.  Once she turns up, expect the huge post-Epiphany sales, which cause tourists and residents alike to have their own sort of Epiphany.  The streets of Rome are so mobbed, even the counterfeit vendors don't have room to display their wares curbside.
In Venice, they hold the annual Regata of the Befana - From the looks of things, men can run the race dressed up as women, but still, a woman gondolier is as hard to find as a female priest.  Maybe this will bring the 'ol boys club just one step closer.
And, as a little curiousity, I just read in my charming This is Venice book (by M. Sasek) - a gift from the Befana herself - that in its heyday, Venice had over 10000 gondolas roaming its canals.  Now, fewer than 500 are in existence.  No wonder prices are so high for a ride. Talk about diminishing returns...

Pic from Venice.nu search engine site: 
  http://www.venice.nu/photos/regatta-della-befana/
And click here for a fun slideshow of the Venetian event.


And, for all those who don't know what we're celebrating exactly, here's my favorite video on youtube depicting the arrival of those three kings on this day:


Buona Befana a tutti!

4 comments:

cuz liz said...

LOVE the video! Thanks.

Venice.nu said...

Hi. You're welcome to use the above pic of the befane from my website, and thanks for acknowledging the source. But I'd be grateful if the acknowledgement included a link to the source.

Venice.nu said...

Thanks for adding the link.
Great blog!

Dave514 said...

Great Video! One just as good was "The Silent Monks" doing the
Halleluia Chorus.