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ItalyThe folkloric figure of the smiling old lady Befana holding a bag of candy and gifts and riding a broomstick is a popular character at Epiphany throughout the country.

On the evening before the Feast of the Epiphany on Jan. 6, children leave out a sock for Befana, hoping she will fill it with candy — a sign that they were good. She leaves a lump of coal if they were bad.

Adults in Venice go for another prize. Each year on Jan. 6, more than 50 boaters dressed as witches participate in the Epiphany witches competition. They leave the Palazzo Balbi on the Grand Canal at 11 a.m. and race, standing up Venetian style, to a giant stocking hanging from the Rialto Bridge.

Visit www.turismovenezia.it (which has an English option).


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