WE have still need to ask, What is the meaning of burning effigies in the fires at these festivals? We may think that all the effigies consumed in the flames on these occasions represent witches or warlocks, and that the custom of burning them is merely a substitute for harsh justice. Besides, it means that we destroy the evil itself in destroying the effigy. Perhaps this explanation of the burning of wooden or straw figures in a human shape at the festivals is the most probable.
With this character of the effigy, representative of the spirit of vegetation or apple trees, the figures composed of dry wood and hay are burned both in the spring and midsummer bonfires in pagan type rituals becoming fashionable across the UK and elsewhere. Now, considering the frequency with which the tree-spirit is represented in human shape, it is hardly surprising to see that the figure and the trees are regarded as one, being a single representative of the tree-spirit.
So it is at the Huon Mid Winter Festival held at Willie Smiths Apple Shed, in the Huon Valley. The nights celebrations are framed around the ‘Wassail’, an ancient act of driving of evil spirits from the cider trees and ensuring a good Autumn harvest. This burning ritual is still carried out with as much enthusiasm as times past, everyone loves a good ‘Lick O Flame’……
Mike Briggs Huon Mid Winter Festival July 2016