BEFANA, ba-fena (Italian, Befania, 4Epiphan?), a figure, generally representing an old woman, which is exhibited in Italy on the day of Epiphany by children, or in shops, etc., where things for children are sold. It symbolizes the ancient woman of Palestine who, saying she would see them on their return, would not leave her household duties to view the Three Kings of the Orient passing on their way to bear their rich offerings to the infant Jesus. Unknown to Befana, they returned in a different direction, and she is supposed to be still fruitlessly waiting for them. Her influence watches over little children who, on the eve of Epiphany, hang their stocIdngs before the hearth-fire, go to bed early and wait to hear the cry "Ecco la Befana," when up they jump to find the presents awarded for good behavior during the past 12 months. A stockingful of ashes is the award for bad behavior. The parallel custom in the United States, Great Britain, Germany and Protestant communities generally is obviously the visit of Santa Claus on Chnstmas Eve. In France the children's "etrennes" or gifts are distributed on New Year's Eve; in Russia on Twelfth Night, which is also the eve of Epiphany. (See NICHOLAS,
SAINT, OF MYRA). Among the Hebrews at Hannukah or Channulcah, the Festival and Dedication of Lights (John x, 22), celebrated 25 December, money is given the children and gifts are exchanged. At Purim — the Feast of Esther (15 Adar — March), a festival of mirth, rejoicing and masquerading, "salachmonnes," a dish of sweetmeats including "humuntash"— a sweet three-cornered seed cake, is sent to the homes and •friends and relatives by the hands of servants or children, who g-enerally receive °tips," The poor also during this fes tival are the recipients of generous charity. At the Passover (14 Nisan— April), which in cludes the Fast of the First-Born and the Fes tival of Unleavened Bread, a piece of "maz zoth" or unleavened bread is hidden which it is the privilege of the yotmgest child to seek. When discovered, the finder can ask any favor or gift from the parent, which is granted.
BEG, or BEY, hi, a title of honor arnong the Turks, meaning "lord?' Beg is an inferior title to pasha.