A true Italian tradition is for children to hang up their stockings by the fireplace or in the kitchen on the eve of the Epiphany, the 6th of January. On this night it is a kindly old lady, known as La Befana, who is said to bring the children presents.
Legend has it that this magical witch was busy sweeping her floor when the Three Wise Men knocked on her door and asked her to accompany them to Bethlehem. She said she was far too busy with her chores. Next some shepherds called by and asked her to go with them to pay their respect to the newborn son of God. Again she declined. Later she witnessed a wondrous bright star in the night sky, and she decided that perhaps she should go to find the baby after all. So she gathered up some toys and set off to try and catch up with the Kings and Shepherds. She searched and searched in vain to find them or the birthplace of Jesus.
It is said that each Christmas she still goes looking for baby Jesus, flying on her broomstick, wandering from door to door, but still she is unable to find him. Instead La Befana the “Good Witch” leaves little gifts for all the children she finds. Children are told that if they have been good they will find goodies in their stockings, but if they have been naughty they might only receive pieces of coal.
Some of her goulish friends ???