Epiphany in Emilia-Romagna

The holidays always end with a flourish in Emilia-Romagna

Legend of the Befana

“L’Epifania che tutte le feste porta via” - Epiphany brings away all the festivities. 

It’s what we say in Italy when the 6th remembers the end of the Christmas holidays.

The Epiphany celebrates the Three Kings' visit to the newborn baby Jesus in Bethlehem. For many kids in Italy, this day is also when “ Befana”, more like a witch, visits their homes and leaves treats and candies. But, watch out! This happens just if you were a good kid! Legend says that if you misbehave you’ll receive dark charcoal as a warning of your actions.

Through this article, you’ll discover that for many people in Emilia-Romagna, Epiphany means much more than candies and charcoal. Here’s a list of remarkable events across Emilia-Romagna that you can’t miss on the 6th of January!

Tuffo della Befana - Cervia (Ravenna)

For the brave ones, you can’t miss this unique and fun event at Cervia’s beach, on the coast not far from Ravenna.

The relationship between the sea and Riviera's people is well-known. On the 6th of January tradition wants the first dive to celebrate the winter sea. From the early hours of the morning, the traditional Befana dive is enriched with events and initiatives.

Daredevil divers meet on the beach, also from different cities in Italy, for the only dip in the sea in which you can participate in disguise. The day continues with musical entertainment for adults and children while waiting for the big dive at 3 pm. The day will end with rich prize-giving to the most numerous groups and the most original costume.

Tuffo della Befana, Cervia (Ravenna)

Photo by Ravenna & Dintorni

Roghi delle Befane” - San Matteo Decimo (Bologna)

Across many cities in Italy, it’s a tradition to burn the “Befana”, an old lady muppet, as a way to get rid of the past year and welcome the new one!

An old farmers’ tradition takes place in San Matteo Decimo, in Bologna’s province, every year between the 5th and 6th of January. Kids dress up in traditional costumes and share nursery rhymes to have some candies as a reward for their performances. In every corner of the city, you’ll find “roghi” - bonfires, with all the people surrounding shouting “A brùsa la Vècia!” (burn the old lady).

The 6th of January marks also the beginning of a new season for the farmers, which after the festivities go back to the countryside, wishing for a new and prosperous year.

A van le vacie - Comacchio (Ferrara)

The charming town of Comacchio, in the province of Ferrara, is also known as the “Little Venice” for its canals and its proximity to the Po river delta.

On the 6th of January in the city centre you’ll be mesmerized by the vibrant atmosphere of the markets full of treats and candies for all the children visiting, but also books and crafts for parents and young people. 

The most remarkable moment will be the Befane parade, where hundreds of witches will process in the streets of Comacchio. Last but not least, the fire-show in the evening where a giant befana will be burned to celebrate the new year.

A van le vacie - Comacchio (Ferrara)

Photo by Estense.com

Palio del Niballo - Faenza (Ravenna)

Many cities across Italy host a “palio”, an ancient race to celebrate historical events, brush-up traditions and folklore and, in some cases, to light again some ancient rivalities, especially the ones in between “rioni” - urban districts.

Epiphany’s eve in Faenza, in the Ravenna’s province, is celebrated by thousands of people coming for the “Nott de Bisò”, the final event of the “Palio del Niballo”. When the clock strikes 12 am on the 5th of January, the stroll puppet representing a Saracen warrior, which represents all the adversities of the year and carried by oxes’ cart , will be burned.

It's tradition to have a glass of Bisò, the typical hot wine prepared with the local Sangiovese by all the "rioni" (districts) of Faenza. The wine is served in the “gotto” , a handmade mug created with local colorful ceramics. Every year the design of the “gotto” changes, so many people collect them all. During the day the stalls served local food from Romagna, such as piadina. Live music and dances are not missed.

Palio del Niballo, Faenza

Photo by Palio del Niballo

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