My Favorite Souvenir

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Sunday, March 2, 2008

Erin Piateski of Damascus brought home a new Christmas tradition -- and Halloween ornament? -- from her trip to Italy this winter. Piateski explains that in Italian folklore, an old woman named Befana rides around on a broomstick and puts candy into the stockings of good children and coal in the stockings of bad ones. (Unlike Americans, Italian children put out stockings on the eve of Epiphany, which falls on Jan. 6.)

Though the tradition has shades of Santa, Piateski was most amused by the decorations' depiction of Befana as a witch. "In many cases, Befana dolls [sold] in stores are obviously witch dolls produced for Halloween use, since they have jack-o'-lanterns and black cats on their clothing," Piateski wrote in an e-mail. "I loved the Befana stockings I saw in the stores because they look like the result of a strange mash-up between Christmas and Halloween."

Think you can top Piateski's Christmas witch stocking from Italy? Read the fine print below.

The Travel section wants to see your coolest, weirdest, funniest finds from trips in the United States or overseas. We'll feature the best of what we get in this occasional feature; winners will receive a Travel section tote bag. Please send a photograph (e-mailing a high-resolution JPEG is best, though we'll also accept prints) and a brief description of the item -- including where you bought it, how it reminds you of the destination and why it makes you laugh -- to (put "My Favorite Souvenir" in the subject field); or mail to Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, Attn: My Favorite Souvenir. Include your name and contact information. Photos cannot be returned.

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