Last night Santa Fe celebrated the beginning of the annual Fiesta with the burning of Zozobra (aka “Old Man Gloom”) – a 50-foot puppet/marionet who represents all the regrets and negativity of the past year.

I am again reminded why I love this city.  Such paganesque rituals are highly satisfying in both symbolic catharsis and pure physical spectacle.  There were fire dancers and waving red carpets – at times reminiscent of a Sophocles play.  Amidst the cries of small children (“burn him! burn him now!”) bringing to mind public executions of past centuries, we all reached civic solidarity through the medium of fire. 

Zozobra is satisfying on a personal level as well.  One of the local papers put out a box for individual lists of regrets.  The box was dumped right into Zozobra’s big white head and burned along with him.   Though the spectacle was perhaps more immediate and satisfying than quiet introspection, it’s a reminder of the process we should all go through from time to time to burn our personal emotional baggage in order to move forward.  !Viva la Fiesta!