If you want to impress your friends with your Christmas greetings in Italian, you should say BUON NATALE E FELICE ANNO NUOVO which means marry Christmas and happy new year! You can also have a slice of Panettone (sweet bread loaf with raisins and candied fruit original from Milan) or Pandoro (without raisins and candied fruit, original from Verona) with a glass of Spumante wine which is sparkling, white and quite sweet… But you you should not forget to tell your friend about the Befana!
In fact, in Italy we also celebrate the Befana the night between the 5th and the 6th of January, the Epiphany. She is an old and ugly woman, with a hooked nose and a pointed chin and she is always pictured riding her broom among stars in the night. As she goes down the chimneys to bring sweets to children, she is also covered with soot. Legend says that she gave some food and pointed the right direction to the three wise men during their long journey. They invited her to come along to meet baby Jesus, but, as she had a lot of housework to do, she refused. When they left, she realised that it was very important to offer her greetings to baby Jesus. Therefore, she left her house and she started her journey on her broom, but she got lost! Since then, she is been looking for baby Jesus and going down all the chimneys to leave sweets in the socks which children have left for her hooked on the mantelpieces of their fireplaces. She still hopes that one of them will be baby Jesus!