The “burning of the Old Hag” is a day of pause from the rigors of Lent in which you can eat what you had promised not to eat, or do what you had set out not to do during the forty days of the Lent. The pyre at the origins represented the dying winter, which takes the form of a puppet of straw and rags, with the face of old hag and is a recall the Carnival ended twenty days earlier.
Solemnly burning this doll means destroying the winter season, marking the arrival of spring with the rebirth of nature and life itself. Puppet is also the personified image of the bad things that must give way to beautiful things. The flame symbolises the hope and the strength to burn the old. The blazing pyre is sometimes blessed by the local priest. The crackling of holy water in the fire is identified with the infuriated devil fleeing.
An interesting tradition is to read the direction of the sparks as a prediction for the future.
- Valle Sabbia