Traditional Italian Christmas outfits or costumes are knee-high breeches paired with white stockings and vibrant sheepskin vests. Dark cloaks are worn over the entire ensemble.
The traditional Italian clothing of breeches, vests and cloaks are worn by bagpipers and flute players, zampognari and pifferai, during Christmas time. According to tradition, these musicians descend from the Abruzzi mountains and congregate around religious shrines to entertain others.
Another Italian Christmas tradition is la Befana, a Christmas witch who searches every year for the baby Jesus. According to legend, she met the Three Wise Men on their way to Bethlehem. She decided to follow them and visit the new baby, but became lost. Since then, she has searched for Jesus. On the Feast of Epiphany, January 6, she brings gifts to children. The costume for la Befana is an apron, scarf and shawl worn over a burlap sack. Eyeglasses and a straw broom complete the outfit.
Other Italian Christmas traditions include ceppo and the urn of fate, although neither involves costumes. Ceppo is a decorative triangular frame with shelves on which Italians set up manger scenes, small gifts and candy. The urn of fate is a bowl out of which Italians receive holiday gifts.