Italian children get their presents on January 5…

In Italy, children do not get their presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, as they do in the United States.

They get there presents on Epiphany Eve, January 4.

Their presents are delivered by a befana, a witch, who brings candy and nuts for the children who have been good and lumps of coal for children who have behaved badly.

It’s not uncommon for people to dress in colorful costumes on Epiphany Eve, like the “charitable” befana in Milan, to the left.

It’s also popular to make elaborate papier-mâché masks, like the one below, worn by a befana in Rome.

No one really knows the exact origin of this tradition, although it is believed to have originated in Rome and then spread throughout Italy.

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