Now Frank's got a website. I was particularly taken by the picture of Petassou which is on this page.
Petassou's a figure from Dordogne folklore, a sort of raggedy man that gets burnt alive with everyone's sins on Feb 3, St Blasius' day. The grass roots practice of Catholicism is sometimes a long way from its lofty source!
The other favourite in our part of France was jumping through the fire at
I'm sure there are suitable reference in Hutton's Stations of the Sun about similar English customs. I haven't read the book but the review says that:
"Responding to the widely-shared sense that England is a country which lost a crucial explanatory story about itself at some point, Hutton suggests that this story is not paganism, as many now suppose, but medieval Catholicism, which knitted together a ritual year, including its surviving pagan elements, holding its individual pieces in liquid suspension."
This seems to make all the more sense when comparing to countries where Catholicism is still culturally the norm, such as France.