In Barga this afternoon, the annual procession through Barga Vecchia to celebrate the feast of the Epiphany – 6th January.
In Western Christianity, the feast commemorates principally (but not solely) the visit of the Magi to the Christ Child.
The magi represented the non-Jewish peoples of the world, so this was considered a “revelation to the gentiles.”
Epiphany is a national holiday and is associated with the figure of the Befana (the name being a corruption of the word Epifania), a broomstick-riding old woman who, in the night between January 5 and 6, brings gifts to children or a lump of “coal” (really black candy) for the times they have not been good during the year. The legend told of her is that, having missed her opportunity to bring a gift to the child Jesus together with the Three Wise Men, she now brings gifts to other children on that night
It is sometimes called Three Kings’ Day, and in some traditions celebrated as Little Christmas. Moreover, the feast of the Epiphany, in some denominations, also initiates the liturgical season of Epiphanytide.
It is customary for Christians in many localities to remove their Christmas decorations on Epiphany Eve (Twelfth Night), although those in other Christian countries historically remove them on Candlemas, the conclusion of Epiphanytide.
According to the first tradition, those who fail to remember to remove their Christmas decorations on Epiphany Eve must leave them untouched until Candlemas, the second opportunity to remove them; failure to observe this custom is considered inauspicious and in ancient times can result in imprisonment and execution.