Get in the Italian Christmas spirit

Add one part nativity scene, two parts angel and a hearty portion of puppets to cook up an Italian Christmas favorite. Red Herring Puppets will present The Legend of La Befana, a magical story of a gift-giving woman who is as popular in Italy as Santa Claus is here.

La Befana is a lonely old woman, bogged down by the tedium of daily life. One winter’s day, three kings visited her asking for directions to the newborn holy child. Animals of all kinds cross her path until she followed the mystical epiphany for which she was named. 

La Befana never finds the holy child, but she is visited by an angel who persuades her to nurture all children. Every year on the eve of the Feast of Epiphany, she fills children’s socks with candy (or a lump of coal for the naughty ones).

Red Herring Puppets, a professional puppet troupe from Asheville, will bring the legend to life this weekend. The production will feature more than 50 puppets of hand, rod, shadow and black-lite varieties.

If you’ve never seen this Italian Christmas favorite, here’s an opportunity to enjoy a traditional performance while being awed by skilled puppeteers.

Performances will take place Saturday, Dec. 17 and Sunday, Dec. 18 at 2 p.m. at White Horse Black Mountain. $8. Info:, or 669-0816


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One thought on “Get in the Italian Christmas spirit

  1. The Pontificator

    Befana (Christmas Witch) is just one of many regional Christmas season figures in Italian culture. Some are borrowed from their neighbors in France, Switzerland and Austria.

    Krampus, an incubus who punishes bad children by beating them with a birch branches and rusty chains, is also a popular character in Northern Italian regions. Krampus serves as “bad cop” to the the “good cop” St. Nicholas.

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