Under Santa Fe Skies

by Susan Tungate

Zozobra Burns, Your Troubles Are Toast!

This is Fiesta Week. We in Santa Fe all know the kick off for Fiesta Week is the burning of Zozobra, that 50 foot tall marionette that symbolizes all the gloom and doom in our lives. Since  Friday people have been stuffing his skirt with mementos of their worries–divorce filings, bills, job termination notices, bad report cards and photos of lovers who have done them wrong. On Thursday Zozobra and our worries are toast. Good riddance to bad jujus. I say burn ‘em!

At the moment, though,  Old Man Gloom is eviscerated about two blocks away at the El Museo Cultural Center in the Railyard area. His massive decapitated head sits next to his 40 foot long body. I like the idea  that Zozobra has been neutralized. Burning seems like over kill, but burn he will on Thursday after sunset.

At dusk at Fort Marcy Park, small fires are lit to surround Old Man Gloom. “Glooms,” played by children dressed in white, surround the base of Zozobra. Then with great fanfare the official Fire Spirit Dancer dressed in red tights and a cape appears at the top of the stage and dramatically swoops down to scare  away the Glooms. The dance between the Fire Spirit Dancer and the Glooms continues for quite some time as excitement builds and the crowd, which can be upwards of 30,000 people, gets all fired up so to speak, and yells, “BURN HIM! BURN HIM!”

And burn he does until he is one big pile of ash. The whole thing is one great big pagan ritual and a little horrific with the moans of distress that freak out me and Georgia the Dog, but with any luck our worries will be burned along with him, and Friday will be a brighter day, at least for us. Zozobra may have a different view of the experience.

I wish you joy and happy days.

PS I just learned about this new Zozobra website where you can record your worry and watch it virtually burn. Take a look here.

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