Epiphany in Rome – Befana
As the ancient Romans would say the tradition of the Befana “Tota Nostra Est”, that is: It is all ours. The phrase actually referred to the literary genre of “Satire” which unlike other genres borrowed from the Greek tradition wanted to be entirely invented in Rome. Even for the myth of the Epiphany we can actually say so, an all-Roman invention that is actually based on a long and complex series of “miss-understanding” or distortions of the original etymologies.
To begin with, the name Befana is actually a distortion of the Greek word ἐπιφάνεια (epifáneia) which refers to the arrival of the Magi in the presence of the newborn Jesus. In Greek Epifaino means “I show myself”, it is therefore an apparition, that of the divine on earth.
In Rome the apparition of Jesus is celebrated and therefore the arrival of the Magi on January 6, as per tradition. In fact, in the Roman tradition the gifts were not exchanged at Christmas, as today, but precisely on the occasion of the Epiphany, the Befana Day, a circumstance more faithful to the sacred scriptures.
In recent years, the custom of exchanging gifts at Christmas has taken hold but Roman families have still kept the tradition of the Epiphany alive by replacing the gifts over time with the famous Befana stocking. This too is a symbolism common throughout the world and of Roman derivation.
La Calza is also the result of a small iconographic distortion. The Befana carried gifts inside old jute bags, worn and deformed that took on the appearance of a sock. Hence the current iconography.
One thing is certain, however, the Epiphany brings with it, in addition to the Gifts, also the Sales, which begin precisely in these days in the capital. An unrepeatable opportunity to experience the atmospheres linked to the Befana tradition, especially in Piazza Navona, and to bring home some real bargains.
From our Boutique Hotel Alpi you can easily reach all the main shopping streets thanks to the metro or even on foot, or the Outlets outside the city thanks to the Express Buses that connect Termini station, near the Hotel Alpi, Castel Romano or Valmontone. Tickets can be easily purchased at the reception.
The next festival in Rome will be Carnival, another ancient tradition that is renewed.
Let’s go away.