How did I not know of this tradition until this week?
On the other hand, what better year than 2020 to first learn about Zozobra?
This “news” reached me just in time to watch the Fire Spirit consume & destroy Zozobra for yet another year, this year viewable online tonight at 8pm MDT.
“An eerie 50-foot tall marionette, Zozobra embodies the gloom built up through this difficult year, moaning and groaning as he battles his immortal enemy, the Fire Spirit brought to life by the collective goodwill of all who yearn for a better world.”
Loosely translated as anxiety and personified as Old Man Gloom, Zozobra represents a monster stalking all of us all year long: gloom and despair. As our worries mount & troubles intensify & insurmountable obstacles block our way forward, Zozobra grows ever larger and stronger all year, threatening to overpower us.
But the inner drive to build a better world despite our despair, seen as an indomitable Fire Spirit, grows strong when we confront Zozobra. So, a nearly-century old tradition in Santa Fe celebrates the struggle and victory over Old Man Gloom every year with a public burning of a 50-foot tall wooden effigy filled with the written expressions of gloom people wish to get rid of.
HOW COOL! I want one of my own! And, sure enough, the public burning of Zozobra is just one celebration. People create — and destroy! — their own personal or family Zozobra. Making and burning Little Zozobras has a long tradition in Santa Fe.
Certainly, I can think of numerous bits of gloom I would gladly part with now:
• The gloom of this prolonged social isolation.
• The gloom of this illness and everyone it impacts.
• The gloom of my friend, Mike’s, death.
• The gloom of beloved Austin music venues closing their doors.
• The gloom of uncertainty: economic, political, global.
Right now, though, our area remains under a burn ban. If I wanted to burn my own this year, it would have to be small and in a well-contained fire area — maybe standing inside the Weber grill?
The good news is that I don’t have to. A local Santa Fe TV station (KOAT) plans to livestream tonight’s Zozobra burning this evening. Moreover, you can submit your own personal gloom to place into Zozobra before tonight’s affair via an online form here.
Beware, Zozobra, tonight the Fire Spirit burns bright, dispelling the despair and darkness you have gathered. Sure, you will return with worries and woes anew and grow throughout the coming year. But so will our Fire Spirit, year after year.
BURN, ZOZOBRA, BURN!