Don't hate us, but today was a holiday.
It was a really nice way to ease into the new year at work.
Italy celebrated epifania or epiphany, commemorating the visit of the tre magi or the three wise men to the baby Jesus.
Now what does this have to do with the old witch-like woman figure below?
She is La Befana, who delivers gifts to the Italian children on the night before Epihany, similar to Santa's job. She shows up in the night riding a broomstick and covered in soot from entering through the chimney, and then fills their stockings with caramelle or candy and gifts, or a lump of coal if they've been bad.
One legend has it that the wise men had knocked on her door asking for directions to baby Jesus. They invited her to join them in the search, but she declined. Later, she changed her mind and tried to find the baby, but could not find him. She continues searching till this day, leaving candy and gifts to children.
I'm thinking I deserved a visit. I may no longer be a child but shouldn't there be a credit for all the la befana candy I didn't get? ;-)