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WATCH: Woman Dressed as ‘Witch’ from Italian Folklore Swoops into Children Hospital to Spread Cheer

Video grab of the 'witch' cheering children at Italy's hospital.
(Credit: Twitter/ Reuters)

Video grab of the 'witch' cheering children at Italy's hospital. (Credit: Twitter/ Reuters)

The viral video shows the woman dangling from a cable, and waving to the staff and children the hospital’s pediatric ward in Italy.

It was Christmas all over again at a children’s hospital in Italy’s Taranto, as a woman in witch costume ‘flew’ in to spread some holiday cheer among the little patients.

A video of the woman’s histrionics has gone viral on social media.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">A ‘flying’ witch brings cheer to sick children at an Italian hospital <a href="https://t.co/lD41ytDOKq">pic.twitter.com/lD41ytDOKq</a></p>&mdash; Reuters (@Reuters) <a href="https://twitter.com/Reuters/status/1347095628099293187?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 7, 2021</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

The viral video shows the woman named Donatella dangling from a cable, which is usually employed for cave rescue missions, and waving to the staff and children at Santissima Annunziata hospital’s paediatric ward.

Donatella, who is part of the Italian Alpine Rescue team, had dressed up as Befana, a popular figure from Italian folklore who is anything but wicked. She goes from door to door on her rickety broomstick to delivers gifts to good girls and boys on the eve of January 6, which is observed as ‘Epiphany Day’ in the country. Befana is somewhat the Italian equivalent of Santa Claus.

Twitter saw netizens leaving a whole gamut of reactions to the video, ranging from amusement, shock and disapproval. One user, Emanuela Tura wrote, “Buona Befana! She delivers gifts to children on Epiphany evening.”

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Buona Befana! She delivers gifts to children on Epiphany evening.</p>&mdash; Dr. Emanuela Tura (@TuraEmanuela) <a href="https://twitter.com/TuraEmanuela/status/1347141818631155712?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 7, 2021</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

But then there were others who were unforgiving in their remarks about the woman’s ‘flying’ skills. “Didn’t you mean to write ... Flying Fool? (sic),” commented a user.

Another user who goes by the name of Moxy Groove Baby wrote: "You can always count on Italy to scare children. A WITCH A WITCH coming through the window and you're a child and you're sick. THANK GAWD IT WASN'T THE POPE VISITING THE YOUNG BOYS. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU (sic)."

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">you can always count on italy to scare children.<br>A WITCH A WITCH coming through the window and you&#39;re a child and you&#39;re sick.<br>THANK GAWD IT WASN&#39;T THE POPE VISITING THE YOUNG BOYS.<br>WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU.</p>&mdash; moxy groove baby (@moxygroovebaby) <a href="https://twitter.com/moxygroovebaby/status/1347099552873140226?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 7, 2021</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

To that, Raffaela Ferretti responded sharply by saying, “She’s not a witch, she is the Befana and children do love her and wait for her presents and sweets, especially sweet sugar coal (sic).”

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">She&#39;s not a witch, she is the Befana and children do love her and wait for her presents and sweets, especially sweet sugar coal.</p>&mdash; Raffaella Ferretti (@raffa_ferretti) <a href="https://twitter.com/raffa_ferretti/status/1347277344180994054?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 7, 2021</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

According to folklore, Befana is far from pleasant-looking—her face is covered with warts and moles, her nose is an aquiline nose and her teeth crooked. But her smiling disposition is what endears her to children. Much like Santa Claus, she enters children’s houses through the chimney which is why her black shawl is covered with a layer of soot. While the good kids get sweets and candies, the bad ones get coal, garlic and onions!


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