Today is the feast of the Epiphany which passes virtually unnoticed in Anglo Saxon countries but which, in Italy, is a holiday and especially important to children as it the day of the Befana. To quote from www.provincia.ps.it;
The "Befana" is an ugly old woman, who brings gifts to the good children on Epiphany Eve. She wears a black shawl on her head and her dress is dirty of soot because she goes into the houses through the chimney. If children had been "bad" instead of sweet or toys they will find onions soot, garlic and coal in their stockings. That's why children during the weeks before Epiphany try to be more patient, good, rund and obedient than usual. On Epiphany eve children are very excited and curious too, still they go to bed very early, after they had hung their stocking on the fireplace. On Epiphany day they wake up very early in the morning, and they hurry to discover what the Befana left for them: some children will be very happy, some other will feel disappointed.
Amandola will celebrate at 4.30pm this afternoon in Piazza Risorgimento with music, games and face painting for the children. The climax of the festa will be the arrival of the Befana at 6.30pm with gifts...hopefully!!