We went to a Christmas Market in Verona on Sunday. The entire town had georgous Christmas lights on every single inch of the town. It was the first day in a very long time that it did not rain, so it was a great day. At the market, they had everything from Christmas decorations, to men in tents doing infomercials for random gadgets. Because it was the first day without rain in a really long time, I think that everyone in Italy came to the market.
This market is a celebration of Santa Lucia Day. My friend Janet told us all about it. We actually saw some ladies dressed up as Santa Lucia in town as well as several Santa Suits. The tradition is that on the 12th of December the children leave out a bowl of water and a carrot for Santa Lucia's donkey. They also leave a little note telling her what gifts they would like to receive. She leaves them presents that night.
I think it's strange that customs can vary so much in between different regions in Itlay. I would have thought that all of the traditions would be the same throughout the country. Also, the donkey thing is kind of weird too!!
There is another strange tradition dealing with a Christmas Witch. It seems like every booth that had Christmas decorations, somewhere in the mix was a scary Christmas Witch. It seemed to strange to me so I had to find out about it! In Italy the children wait until Epiphany, January 6, for their presents. According to tradition, the presents are delivered by a kind ugly witch called Befana on a broomstick. It was said that she was told by the three kings that the baby Jesus was born, she was busy and delayed visiting the baby. She missed the Star, lost her way and has been flying around ever since, leaving presents at every house with children in case he is there. She slides down chimneys, and fills stockings and shoes with good things for good children and it is said leaves coal for children who are not so good.
I also found out that Babbo Natale (Father Christmas) puts out presents on the night of Epiphany (Jan 6) as well. It seems like these kids get a lot of presents! Apparently, Babbo Natale is gaining popularity and Befana the witch is the more traditional gift giver. (I feel like these kids must be confused!) Oh well, at least they get lots of gifts! Merry Christmas!