La Befana:  17th Century
Italy

This kind Italian lady emerged in Italy during the 17th century trend of 'replacing St. Nicholas'. Her legend describes her as an old woman too busy with her housework to accompany the Magi in search of the manger. Later, feeling remorseful, she loaded a basket of gifts and fruit and set out to find the Christ child without success. Thereafter, known as 'the Good Christmas Witch', she travels on the Eve of Epiphany, January 5, giving gifts to good boys and girls and coal to the naughty ones. A broom is her mode of transportation, upon which she swoops down the chimneys!
During the Second World War, Benito Mussolini chose to be associated with his nation's gift-bringer and was known as "the fascist Befana".

14" (35 cm) - $195
28" (71 cm) - $415 (by order only)
La Befana in long skirt and cape