In Italian folklore, Befana is an old woman (or friendly old witch) who delivers gifts to children on Epiphany Eve (January 5).
The name Befana is thought to derive from the Feast of Epiphany - "La Festa dell'Epifania".
According to folklore Befana visits all the children of Italy on the eve of the Feast of the Epiphany to deliver gifts - candy, if they have been good, or coal if they have been bad.
Befana is usually portrayed as an old lady or witch riding a broomstick. She is covered in soot because she enters the children's houses down the chimney.
In Christian legend, Befana was approached by the Three Wise Men a few days before the birth of the Infant Jesus. They asked for directions, as they were following his star in the sky, but she did not know where to send them. Instead she offered them a bed for the night. The next day, as gratitude for her hospitality, they invited her to join them on their journey, but she declined as she had too much housework to do. She later regretted this and set out on her own to find them and the baby Jesus, but was unable to. So to this day, the legend says, she is still searching and travels the night sky on her broomstick, visiting children on the way, delivering gifts, in the hope of finding the baby Jesus