By way of Atlas Obscura comes the story of Jarramplas, a monster who gets 30 tons of turnips thrown at him by townsfolk in celebration of … no one’s quite sure what. It’s a town tradition with no settled origin story.
As I read, it struck me as one of the many ways people chased demons away. Turnips in Spain, Zozobra in New Mexico, and sin-eating among them.
Although sin-eating may be borderline because it’s not really chasing the demons away. It’s eating a ritual meal over the body by a designated person. By eating this meal, the sin-eater absorbs the sins of the dead resulting in absolution of the deceased’s soul.
Zozobra represents gloom and annually storms Santa Fe determined to spread it over the entire world, beginning with the children. His eventual burning, brought about by fire spirit dancer, chases the gloom, and bad spirits, of the year away. Light returns, and the Fiestas de Santa Fe begins.
Further it brings to mind Shirley Jackson’s story The Lottery, about an annual ritual performed by townspeople who stone the loser of the lottery to death in order to ensure continued well being of the town and bring about a good harvest.
If only it were that easy.