We all know many a story about St Nic and the many origins of Santa , so here are some other traditions..which we have adopted into our American/Italian/Spanish/German/English family LOL!
Father Christmas now hangs in the market stalls along side La Befana for sale and they even have stickers with La Befana on. The idea of the old hag flying around on her broomstick dropping sweets down the chimney into your socks along with the now more appealing edible coal is just not as appealing now that I have older children. The image of the old Shaman entering via the chimney in the snow cloaked in deep red and green also still springs to mind and we still see the red and white mushrooms to hang up as decorations too!Red and white proving to be far popular than winter greens.
Whilst you can see the Befana is indeed often depicted as what we would recognise as a witch she has now been softened into a sweet old lady wearing warm reds carrying the gifts in her back sack - no pointy hat and no broomstick in sight on this one.. in fact she reminds me of good old St Nick!
Meanwhile in Spain my family prepare for the wild street party which will begin with the three kings parade and lots of throwing of confetti and sweets into the crowd. The three Kings are eagerly awaited and they too bring coal to the naughty. Now in one story La Befana met the Three Kings and was asked the way by the Magi who were following the star , she regretted not going and supposedly has been delivery presents ever since , there is a more sinister version but you can look that up.