'Good witch' rowers at Venice's Epiphany regatta

Every year, Venice's oldest rowers race a short regatta on the Grand Canal to celebrate the feast of the Epiphany dressed like the 'Befana', an imaginary old witch of the Italian folklore who is thought to bring gifts to children and fill their socks with sweets and presents on the night before Epiphany - or lump coal if they've been bad.

This year, with new restrictions, Venice municipality cancelled the event to avoid crowds on the canals.

But, since rowing dressed like a Befana is not a crime, members of the oldest rowing club of Venice, the 'Bucintoro', decided to row on their own disguised as old witches in an amateur regatta without prizes or finish lines.

According to the Italian tradition, the Befana brings gifts in memory of those offered by the three wise men - Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar - to baby Jesus.

The traditional regatta, dating back to 1978, started from a competition between two rowers of the Bucintoro club who challenged each other in a competition to prove their rowing skills.

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