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  • Writer's pictureSteven Hansen

Burn Up Your Woes and Worries

It’s that time of year once again to banish your gloomy thoughts and troublesome worries by having them publicly incinerated along with the veritable demon of doom, Zozobra.

This happy execution has taken place every September for the past 99 years, ushering in the annual autumn fiesta celebrations in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This year, “Old Man Gloom” Zozobra will be torched on Friday evening, September 1, 2023, in Santa Fe’s Fort Marcy Ballpark.

The burning of Zozobra dates from 1924, when Santa Fe artist Will Shuster torched a 6-foot-tall version of the gloom monster in his backyard at a party with his friends and fellow artists. "Zozobra" is a Spanish word for anxiety or worry.

These days, Zozobra has grown to a 50-foot-tall puppet and the event is sponsored by the local Kiwanis Club. The burning ceremony delights crowds of up to 60,000 every year. The event is cathartic because the giant Zozobra goblin is stuffed with slips of paper on which fiesta attendees write their woes and worries, along with assorted legal papers, divorce decrees, mortgage pay-offs, parking tickets and the like. As Zozobra is consumed by fire, everyone’s worries go up in flames along with him and are dramatically reduced to ashes.

A new Zozobra effigy is constructed every year, following the same grotesque design as the original.

Submit Your Own Worries for Burning

Now you too can have your personal worries incinerated along with Zozobra for a $1 donation. Enter your anxieties, problems, or mental burdens on the official “Burn My Gloom” submission page. Your worries will be printed out on paper, stuffed into Zozo’s effigy, and torched at 9:30 p.m. MDT, Friday, September 1, 2023. What a deal!

You can also upload copies of personal documents you wish to have committed to the flames, such as bad report cards, dear John/Joan letters, divorce papers, etc., for an additional $5 each.

Plus, for fees of $5-15, you can also specify where on Zozobra’s body you wish to have your worries stuffed. This offer is limited to his head, hair, mouth, right hand, left hand, belly, chest, and “where his heart should be.”

All submissions must be received by 5 p.m. MDT, Thursday, August 31.

Video: Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe

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If only it worked. I have dozens of private and public figures I'd add. Bonnie McCune

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