Instead of Santa visiting Italian homes, there is a jolly witch known as La Befana that brings presents to good boys and girls.
According to legend, the night before the Wise Men arrived at the manger to view Jesus, they stopped at the shack of an old woman, named La Befana, to ask for directions.
After her great help, the Wise Men invited her to come along. Since she had lost her child not long before their arrival and felt it might be too hard to see another baby so soon, she politely declined.
Later that night, she saw a great light in the sky and felt it was a sign that she needed to join the Wise Men. She gathered all the gifts that were for her departed child, and sent out to find Jesus to give him these gifts.
Sadly, she got lost and never found Jesus and the Wise Men.
Now, La Befana flies around on her broomstick each year, bringing gifts to children in hopes that she might find the Baby Jesus. Children hang their stockings on the evening of January 5, awaiting the visit of La Befana.