January 6th is a significant day to Italians because it marks the end of the Christmas season and the day that the three Wise Men arrived at the manger of the Christ child. Over the years the Epiphany has been a more celebrated holiday for the children of Italy than even Christmas.
La Befana is a friendly character in Italian folklore. She is a witch like character who rides around on a broom. Unlike a witch though, she is often smiling and she has a sack or a basket filled with candy and/or gifts.
La Befana is one of Italy's oldest and most celebrated legends. Like many Italian traditions La Befana is a mixture of folklore and Christianity. The name Befana is derived from the word Epifania, the Italian name for the religious festival of the Epiphany.
Here is an Italian nursery rhyme that the children sing for “La Befana”
La Befana viene di notte
con le scarpe tutte rotte
col cappello alla romana
viva viva la Befana!
La Befana comes at night
with old broken shoes
and a Roman style hat
long live la Befana!