|from the Urban Dictionary|
In Italy, it is referred to in everyday language as La Befana, easily seen as a pronunciation of the Greek 'epiphany'.
The wider use of epiphany is as in the text box screenshot from the Urban Dictionary.
La Befana in Italy entangles with folk legend in that Befana is there held to be a woman who failed to respond promptly to the request of the wise men to chip in some gifts and follow the campaign trail. Realising her folly, discovering the guys had gone ahead, Befana assumed a role of rushing about, dusty from chimney arrival-departure, giving children gifts (on the goodness-wickedness scale) on the night before the day celebrated as Befana. Wikipedia has a nice account of this. As does a Canadian Italian organisation from which this image is drawn. In this way, Italians have had a female figure like Father Christmas for a long time, arriving this far after Christmas. Babbo Natale is just a kid, having entered Italian minds in the post war period. These days of course the Wise Guys would have registered a tax exempt charitable fund, I suppose. But Befana is not real, whereas charitable organisations should be.
This year Befana brings arctic winds from the east, finally harsh winter and snow in and extending from the Appenines, as seen in this shot from a weather forecast page.