A popular belief in Italy is Befana, the name of a witch who flies on her broomstick on the night of the 5th January until early morning on the 6th January.
She flies from one house to the next to deliver presents, punish or haunt. In the course of time, the positive aspects of her personae have prevailed. As a consequence, she is now deemed predominantly as a good fairy.
It is custom for the children in Italy to hang their stockings by the fireplace, so that the witch can fill with them with presents.
At night she comes down the chimney into the houses and fills the stockings with sweets and presents for the well behaved children.
But beware! Naughty children only receive stockings filled with coal. Of course, this is not real coal, but "carbone dolce", a black coloured and sticky sweet that resembles coal.
On the 15th January 2015, great excitement prevailed in the ESM Kindergarten as the Italian witch Befana paid the children a visit. As always, the good witch was slightly confused and disoriented. At first, she ended up in the sports' hall of the Primary School, where she caused great astonishment among our dear colleagues from the security service. They wondered what type of school visitor this quirky character, wearing ragged clothes and a headscarf and carrying a broom, would be. However, as this old witch is very well-versed with magic formulae, she eventually managed to arrive in front of the right door; the one leading to the Kindergarten.
Cheerfully, she introduced herself to the children, who had been eagerly waiting for her arrival. The Italian "bambini" sang songs and recited poems in their mother tongue. The legend of the Befana was also performed as a play. They say that the three Magi had passed the house of the Befana during their search for baby Jesus. They asked the Befana to accompany them, but the witch refused as she was busy. A short time later, she regretted her decision and searched for the Christ child by herself, but as the bright star had extinguished, she could not find her way. In the hope that one of the children is baby Jesus, the Befana flew with her broom from house to house and gave children presents.
The Kindergarten children had all been well-behaved and quite rightly received the well-liked sugar "carbone", whereupon everyone danced to the song "La bella bimba". But then the time had come to bid farewell because the Befana had to leave to make children in Russia happy. However, she promised to return next year at the same time. She mounted her magic broom and said goodbye Italian style: "Arrivederci bambini!"