Public holiday of cultural and religious events, activities for kids and shopping in Rome on 6 January.
Italians celebrate the religious feast of the Epiphany, or the more popular one of La Befana, on Saturday 6 January. It is a public holiday across Italy and marks the official end of the Christmas season.
The 33rd edition of Viva la Befana event along Via della Conciliazione, leading up to St Peter's, at 10.00 on 6 January. Comprising costumed figures, camels and horses, the parade is designed to combine Christian values with the folklore that the day evokes in Italy.
In the Bible tradition the feast of the Epiphany is when the three magi arrive in Bethlehem to visit the Christ child, an event celebrated by Pope Francis with a Mass in St Peter's at 10.00.
In the popular fairytale version the story goes that the wise men invited a witch, or strega, to join them on their journey to bring gifts to the Christ child. She initially refused, but then tried to follow them. Unable to find Jesus she gave the toys to other children. In Rome, according to tradition, children hang stockings by windows or fireplaces in anticipation of her visit to receive sweets if they’ve been good or coal if they have misbehaved.
Kids in Rome can enjoy the carousel at the much-reduced Befana market in Piazza Navona, discounted entry to the Bioparco, fun workshops at the Explora children's museum, or ice skating at several rinks in the city.
While public offices are closed, it is traditionally a busy day for the capital’s retail sector. The post-Christmas sales season in Rome and the Lazio region begins on 5 January and continues over the subsequent six weeks.
Rome’s city-run museums are open on 6 January (for details see Musei in Comune website) and most of the capital's main winter exhibitions are also open.
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