Traditionally, on the day of New Year’s Eve, Hungarians make the straw man, Jack Straw (who symbolize the evils of the past year), to walk it all over town during the day, and then burn or bury it later on at night so they could put the old year behind and start afresh. Some Hungarians also believed that animals were able to speak on New Year’s Eve, and onionskins scattered with salt could indicate a rainy month.
He is burned on New Year’s Eve to symbolize a fresh start, but is first carried through town. People from the town gather to watch Jack Straw burn and prepare to ring in a new and fresh year.
The scapegoat represents the evils and misfortunes of the past year. Burning the effigy is supposed to get rid of the bad luck.
He is a magical scapegoat.
Scarecrows are not just about Halloween.
In Ecuador at the stroke of midnight, people around the country bring effigies of politicians, pop culture figures, and other icons of the year to torch in the streets. This tradition of burning the “año viejo” (“old year”) is symbolic of cleansing the bad from the previous 12 months before the new year commences.
The tradition of the effigy burning is said to go back to an 1895 yellow fever epidemic that hit Guayaquil especially hard. That year people packed coffins with the clothes of the dead and set them in flames, the act being both a symbol as well as a purification rite.
New Year’s wishes are not generally for more stuff, to the relief of your bank account, but for good things in the coming year.
A scarcity of children in the wake of the Great Plague, some historians surmise, led farmers to use adults to guard their crops, some keeping watch in straw huts as Native Americans did.
But as farms grew larger, in their place human-like effigies rose from the fields and thus was born the scarecrow.
Its symbolism is universal, but the original scarecrows were nothing like the now familiar straw-stuffed icon of Halloween.
Through the ages their makers worldwide have fashioned the often frightening looking figure to reflect images of the occult, of customs, culture, mythology, superstitions or religion.
Zozobra, The Boogeyman of Santa Fe
Each year, New Mexicans gather around a giant burning effigy, casting off their bad memories into the consuming bonfire.
Zozobra is also reminiscent of Wickerman, a scarecrow-like effigy burned by the Gauls at the end of the harvest season.
Zozobra himself has inspired other, similar effigy burnings, including Burning Man, held each summer in Nevada, and Albuquerque’s El Kookookee – the Bogeyman. But Zozobra, in all his hideous, gangly glory, remains one of a kind.
Make a Wicker Man and burn him in your bon fire.
Burn your remnants of your Yule Tree or Wreath in the bon fire or try using Wreaths of Vervain and Mugwort which were burned in ancient times at the end of the festivals to burn away bad luck.
Dispose of those qualities that trouble you: project them into a burn-able (bunch of dry twigs, paper, etc.) and thrust the mass into a cleansing fire.
Any burning is good. Let’s toast to a Magickal New Year.