The end to Christmas holidays occurs on 6th January, when we celebrate Epiphany, whose name is from a Greek word, which means manifestation.
We should distinguish between Epiphany and Befana. The latter is usually represented by an old woman with a long nose and a pointed chin. She wears a large dark skirt, an apron, a scarf and a strange hat. She flies on a broom and brings some gifts to children in the night between January, 5th and 6th. Kids prepare a plate with a tangerine or an orange and a glass of wine for her.
Legend has it that this woman is linked to The Three Wise Men. They could not find the way to Bethlehem to visit the Holy Child, so they asked information to an old woman who showed them the way. They invited her to follow them, but she did not accept. Later, she decided to look for them and bring a bag full of candies. Unfortunately, she couldn’t find them, so she started to knock on all the doors and give sweets to every child she met, because she hoped to find Jesus.
In Italy, Epiphany is celebrated in several cities. For instance, in Matera shady people go around in the downtown threatening children to sew their mouths. Another example is the House of the Befana in Urbino, where visitors can see her while she is doing chores such as sewing scarves or preparing coal for bad children. In the end, in Venice rowers compete in the Grand Canal until Rialto Bridge, where a huge Christmas stocking is hanging for them.