By Daniel Holz | September 9, 2010 10:43 pm

zozobraImagine, if you will, 40,000 people whipped into a mad frenzy. The chants of “burn him” are deafening. They surround a 50 foot high marionette (the world’s largest), which is moaning and struggling and crying. The giant puppet, named “Old Man Gloom”, represents all of the troubles of the past year. Through fire the gathered masses seek deliverance. There are dancers with torches. The old man screams out in despair. Suddenly he is aflame, his eyes glowing from within. Soon there is a five story pillar of fire; the heat washes over the thousands of people gathered around. And then, in a blizzard of fireworks, the marionette vaporizes to nothing but a pile of embers. This is Zozobra. He burned two hours ago. A Santa Fe tradition for the past 85 years, the event marks the beginning of Fiestas de Santa Fe, which has run continuously since 1712.

There is something communal and primal about Zozobra. It feels purifying and freeing; the sorrows of the city have been dispelled. And I can bike to it from my house, which is a lot more convenient than Black Rock City. It is uniquely Santa Fe.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Entertainment, Miscellany
  • Mandeep

    D- wow, i totally thought you were initially describing Burning Man, till you said it was in Santa Fe, which i guess was somewhat deliberate in how you set it up ;-> (and i would’ve been a little surprised that you went to BM, not so ‘convenient’ as you say at the end — many of my friends have gone, but it’s not the kind of thing i could easily make time for myself, either..)

    Funny, and i guess the purposes are somewhat similar too, for this part of it.

    Burn him, burn him, and begin anew!!!!

    Rather interesting and coincidental (i guess?) that it coincides (at least this year) with Jewish High Holy Days, where the cycle of renewal for the next year is also celebrated (i mean, even as the “hardcore atheist” you are, you can sympathize with the cultural roots of a time for reflection on the past, and hopefulness for the new, right..?!).

    Btw, i notice you (and others a bit too) are making much more effort to keep the blog going, even with Sean dropping in here and there, not being *fully* on hiatus — it’s definitely appreciated, and i like seeing the different perspectives and interests people have on various things. :->


  • JT

    I grew up in Santa Fe and have many happy memories of Fiestas & Zozobra. I remember trying to guess which shade of neon his hair would be each year (this was in the 80’s) and watching him pass by our school on a flatbed a few days before the event. I also remember playing a “gloom” when I was a little kid, basically a bunch of kids would dress up in white sheets like little ghosts and dance around Zozobra before he was burned. As Dan says, it’s a unique event, part of what makes the City Different different. Viva la Fiesta! Que Viva!

  • http://Untitledvanityproject.blogspot.com Rhacodactylus

    Lol, the inconvenient thing about Black Rock City is managing not to strangle hippies while you’re there =)

  • Cosmonut

    That brought back good memories. :)

  • Naninooni

    Rhacodactylus must get his flair for social commentary from his idols, Lush Rimbaugh & Glenn Beck, eh wot?

  • http://migre.me/1fNne Social Entropy

    Hahahaha I’m from Brazil and it’s always good to know other cultures. Speaking of which, take a look at my post, originally in Portuguese, which I would like to give a first lesson in physics and chemistry to children who have never seen it. And while I criticized the Brazilian educational system. I’m curious to read the opinion of someone from outside the country. Leave a comment!


  • Low Math, Meekly Interacting

    Geez, moaning and struggling and crying. Makes me feel kinda bad for the guy.

  • http://www.jeux-nokia-gratuit.com Jeux Nokia

    I grew up in Santa Fe and have many happy memories of Fiestas & Zozobra. I remember trying to guess which shade of neon his hair would be each year (this was in the 80’s) and watching him pass by our school on a flatbed a few days before the event.

  • http://sites.google.com/site/russabbott Russ Abbott

    I don’t know where to put this question, so I’ll leave it here in the hope that one of you will find it interesting enough to comment on. Thanks.

    Do all particles decay? I understand that some, e.g., the proton, have very long expected lives. But are there any particles that are known (to the extent that theory can know these things) not ever to decay? What about quarks and photons?

    This site (http://pdg.lbl.gov/2010/tables/rpp2010-sum-gauge-higgs-bosons.pdf) says that guage and higgs bosons are stable. Does that mean that they never decay?

    A related question is whether there are any particles that are indestructible, i.e., no matter how much energy is applied to them, they can not be forced to fragment into components or combine with something else and in so doing lose their identity?


  • OXO

    Sad to say,but this blog is dying..


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