"Someone had brought a long cane from the fire tipped with lighted tow and the Judas was being set afire. Its raggedy clothes were packed with squibs and rockets and as the fire took hold it began to blow apart piece by piece in a shower of burning rags and straw."

The Burning of Judas is an Easter-time ritual in many Orthodox and Catholic Christian communities, where an effigy of Judas Iscariot is burned. Other related mistreatments of Judas effigies include hanging, flogging, and exploding with fireworks.

Though not an official part of the Easter liturgical cycle, the custom is typically a part of the reenactment of the story of the Passion that is practiced by the faithful during Easter. Customs vary, but the effigy of Judas is typically hanged (reenacting Matthew 27:5) on Good Friday, then burned on the night of Easter Sunday.

The burning of Judas was once widely practiced across Europe, and is still practiced in parts of Mexico and other Orthodox or Catholic Christian countries.

 

Hanging of Judas in Mexico City (c. late 19th or early 20th century)
Public DomainHanging of Judas in Mexico City (c. late 19th or early 20th century) - Credit: Library of Congress
Burning of Judas at Juiz de Fora, Brazil (1909)
Public DomainBurning of Judas at Juiz de Fora, Brazil (1909) - Credit: Wikimedia Commons