Buona Befana! Today is a holiday in Italy where an unattractive old looking woman gives out coal to children who are bad and candy to those who were good, the Feast of the Epiphany. Mostly though, the Befana signifies the end of the Winter holidays and after two weeks of vacation, everyone has to go back to work, even in Italy. Many including me, have considerable trouble getting back to work after the holiday season.
Traditionally, Italians gave their Christmas presents on this day, timed to the arrival of the Magi. When I was living their though all anyone got on la Befana was candy or coal. I found this blog entitled Willy or Won’t He? about la Befana and thought it interesting to see how she was viewed by this particular family.
No specific foods or wines are used on this day. However, I just discovered a winery called Raffaldini in North Carolina that makes a “Befana” sweet wine. Needless to say wonders never cease. Apparently this ancient family from Mantua in Lombardy has created what they call “Chianti In The Carolinas,” making a number of wines with Italian grapes. Their Befana wine is a sweet wine made using partially dried grapes.