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  • Writer's pictureSu Guillory

Celebrating L'Epifania in Calabria: A Feast of Traditions and Revelry

As the Christmas season comes to a close and the new year begins, the Calabrese eagerly anticipate the third holiday of the season: Epifania.

This holiday, observed on January 6th, marks the arrival of the three Wise Men in Bethlehem and carries a unique blend of religious traditions and vibrant cultural festivities. Here's what you need to know about Epifania in Calabria.

La Befana, the Gift-Giving Witch

Central to the Epiphany celebrations in Calabria is the folklore figure of La Befana, a kind-hearted witch who is said to fly on her broomstick, delivering gifts to children across the region (sound familiar?).

According to tradition, children hang stockings by the fireplace, eagerly awaiting La Befana's arrival. The gifts she brings are a mix of sweets for good children and lumps of coal for those who may have been a bit naughty during the year. Families gather to share stories of La Befana's magical journey and exchange small gifts, adding a whimsical touch to the post-holiday season.

Religious Processions and Celebrations

L'Epifania in Calabria is not only a time for gift-giving but also a moment for religious reflection and community gatherings. Many towns and villages in Calabria organize vibrant religious processions, reenacting the journey of the Wise Men.

Elaborate floats, adorned with intricate decorations, make their way through the streets, accompanied by traditional music and the joyful participation of locals. These processions are not only a spectacle to behold but also a deeply spiritual experience, bringing together communities in a shared celebration of faith.

Traditional Epifania Delicacies

No Calabrian celebration is complete without indulging in the region's delectable cuisine, and L'Epifania is no exception. Families come together to enjoy a feast featuring traditional dishes, with a particular focus on sweets.

Struffoli, a honey-soaked pastry, and Pignolata, a delightful confection of fried dough and honey, take center stage on the Epifania dessert table. These treats, often shaped into symbolic forms, add a deliciously sweet note to the festivities.

Bonfires and Fireworks

Epiphany night in Calabria is often illuminated by bonfires and fireworks that light up the sky. These celebratory displays symbolize the guiding star that led the Wise Men to the birthplace of Jesus. Communities gather around the warmth of the bonfires, sharing laughter and enjoying the spectacle above, creating a sense of unity and joy that permeates the cool January air.

L'Epifania in Calabria is a magical blend of religious reverence and cultural festivities, a time when communities come together to celebrate the joy of giving, the richness of tradition, and the warmth of shared moments.

As La Befana takes to the skies and the region comes alive with processions, feasts, and fireworks, Epiphany becomes a vibrant and unforgettable chapter in Calabria's tapestry of celebrations. Embrace the magic of this joyous season, where the spirit of La Befana continues to weave enchanting tales and create cherished memories for all.


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