Italians in the diaspora and the homeland embrace extended Christmas seasons. They enjoy festive and religious observances over the course of six weeks. The holidays go:
• From the four weeks of l’Avvento (Advent);
• Through the two days of la Vigilia di Natale (Christmas Eve) and il Natale (Christmas);
• To the two weeks (short two days) preceding l’Epifania (Epiphany).
They lend themselves to three gift-giving occasions:
• December 5 – 6 by Santa Claus’s role model, San Nicola di Bari (Saint Nicholas, 270 – 343);
• December 24 – 25 by Babbo Natale (Father Christmas);
• January 5 – 6 by Old Befana.
They mean lots of baking, making, and shopping … even for a witch who gives up magic in “Merry Christmas, Strega Nona.”