Thursday, September 9, 2010

New Mexican Traditions: Zozobra

This evening I had I very interesting experience. After work, Matt and I drove about an hour to Santa Fe to see the burning of Zozobra. This event marks the beginning of the three day long Santa Fe Fiesta.

Zozobra is the worlds largest marionette. He is about 50 feet tall.

And every fall, they burn him to the ground.

In Spanish, Zozobra means anguish and misery. The other name for him is Old Man Gloom. This is the 86th year in a row they've been burning this effigy, and his burning is supposed to symbolize the destruction of all the gloom and unhappiness of the past year. Many people write down their gloom from the year and burn it in a box along with Zozobra. Frequently among these papers are unpleasant legal documents.

Prior to the burning, Zozobra is read his death sentence, outlining how he has made everyone miserable for the year, and that he deserves a fiery execution. Then he is torched. During the burning and afterward there is dancing and fireworks, so all in all, it's a pretty elaborate ritual.

One of the cool/crazy things about this whole thing is that this is a marionette, and the thing is actually moving around, arms flailing, mouth opening, head turning back and forth, bellowing and howling. And all the while everyone is shouting "Burn him! Burn him! Burn him!"

This tops the list of "bizarre" things I've been to. But I have to admit, there is something strangely gratifying about a giant, yelling, burning puppet.

If you haven't seen this, I suggest looking up a video on YouTube. I also have some of my own footage on Facebook. Also, here's a link to a video of the entire execution. It's kind of long, but it was a really crazy show.
Zozobra 2010

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad to see that y'all drove. The Albuquerque Journal today (Sat) had an article that said the Rail Runner train returning from Zozobra hit an abandoned vehicle left on the tracks. No major injuries, but a lot of panicking...