Brusar la Vecia
In various parts of the North-East of Italy, among which Venice, on January, the 6th, Epiphany holiday, there is the tradition of burning the old woman, symbol of the past year. This practice has ancient origins and refers to the respect that many agricultural civilizations showed to earth: by burning the witch, it’s celebrated the victory of the good weather on the freezing winter and it’s meant to give fertility to fields. The link with pagan practices, in this case, is evident, and maybe this tradition goes back to ten th or six th century b.C. The old woman to be burnt is a puppet on a cart in a procession, made by guys who make noise to revive the sad atmosphere of Lent.
The puppet is made of wood and has in its hands a spindle and a bunch of flax and carries with it grapes, dried figs, chestnuts, carobs, apples and small gifts that gives to the countrymen before being burnt, as symbol of the old year that has gone, but leaving the seeds from which the new year can rise. During the procession it passes door-to-door and receives all the resentment for what has gone wrong during the year. After the process for all the cruelties she has done, the witch is sentenced to be burnt in a not cultivated field.