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Regatta della Befana

Epiphany is a national holiday in Italy. It's known as Befana's day, the day that the Befana set out, following the three wise men she'd seen twelve days earlier. Those twelve days gave her time to do baking and clean the house, but by then she'd lost the way to find baby Jesus. So, instead, she went around to the houses of boys and girls and swept their floors and filled their shoes/socks/stockings with her baking.

Venice celebrates Befana's day with a regatta, not of Befana but many of them. Each Befana is a cross-dressed man, each with her own boat. A wooden broom stood upright, like a flagpole, towards the front of the boat, while the Befana stood in the rear, rowing her way through the race and the hope of victory. The Rialto, the finish line, was crowded with people, watching and cheering. We watched from a nearby fondamenta, where there was more space and visibility, while Befanas rowed by, as did other teams of racers. Presumably, there are two categories to the race. Afterwards, other Befanas handed out free cups of vin brûlé to the crowds. We missed the traditional Venetian pastries, but it was a small loss given the fun of the race.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 7th, 2004 08:54 pm (UTC)
Good to hear from you Shana, I was starting to worry. :-)

Sounds like you're managing to have fun in Italy. When are you guys back in TO?
Jan. 8th, 2004 05:44 am (UTC)
Right now! We're planning on coming to First Thursday tonight. We got in on Wednesday in the early hours of the morning.

Good to hear from you too! How were the holidays?
May. 12th, 2008 05:49 am (UTC)
photos of Regatta Della Befana
You can see photos of Venice's Regatta Della Befana at http://www.venice.nu/festivals/regatta-della-befana/
May. 12th, 2008 04:40 pm (UTC)
Re: photos of Regatta Della Befana
Thank you for sharing these.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )