What Is Santa Claus Called in Italy?

In Italy, Santa Claus, or Father Christmas, is known as "Babbo Natale." However, despite its contemporary popularity, the tradition of Santa Claus is a relatively new one in Italy. The more traditional annual gift bringer is La Befana.

According to legend, La Befana was an old, kind witch who followed the three wise men on her flying broomstick to Bethlehem bearing treats for the baby Jesus. Although she never actually reached her destination, the story goes that she continues to search, bringing gifts for any children she finds. Other regional Christmas gift-bearers include Santa Lucia in Venice and Mantova and Jesus himself, or Gesu' Bambino in Italian.