After the night of the Yule Log (Christmas Eve), the Florentines passed by to celebrate December 30th, the day of Saint Fiorenzo (renamed Saint Florence) which, until 1749, was the last holiday of the year.
In fact, in Florence the New Year was celebrated on March 25th, the day of the Annunciation.
In the iconography Saint Florence is represented with a turnip in his hand and on that day, in the church dedicated to him, blessed turnips were dispensed and the faithful used them for the “Soup of the three R” made with rice, turnips and drums (pieces) of sausage .
On January 6th, young and old alike are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Befana.
It is the day of Epiphany: the Three Kings bring their gifts to the child Jesus, recognizing his double essence, the human and the divine.
But that witch who flies aboard a broom that today symbolizes the Befana, who is she? She could represent Mother Nature who, in pagan rites, was burned as a sign of “rebirth” of a Young Nature.
Even today, in some parts of Italy, a puppet with the likeness of a witch is burned to ward off bad luck …
And then, as the saying goes: Epiphany takes all holidays away!