1. Italy: La Befana
Forget jolly old St. Nick — in Italy, christmas gifts are brought by La Befana, a witch on a broomstick! Italian folklore says that the 3 wise men asked the witch to accompany them to the manger. She declined their offer, as well as a shepherd’s offer. That evening, she saw a bright light in the sky and changed her mind, wanting to bring gifts that had once belonged to her deceased child. She never found the group again. Now, she brings gifts to children every year with the hopes of finding Baby Jesus.
Every year, Italian parents leave out a glass of wine and some food for la befana, and children hang their stockings hoping for gifts.
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Image Credit: Square87 via Wikimedia Commons