Red or Green: Not Red vs. Blue

The Great Chile Debate Heats Up as Zozobra Burning Approaches

Red or Green, Not Red vs. Blue: The Great Chile Debate Heats Up as Zozobra Burning Approaches

Red or GreenWe met 30 years ago at Larry Wilson’s Pecos River Ranch. The chance meeting, blossoming romance, and numerous trips make Santa Fe, NM, a warm spot in our hearts with years of fond memories and good friends nurtured over the years. Please keep in perspective that New Mexico is the only state in the US with theUSA after the state name on license plates because many people do not know that New Mexico is part of the US. Sad but true, even during a recent visit, Mr. Biden, The President, stepped off of Air Force One, declaring it was “nice to be back in Mexico,” to the despair of this blue states governor. In New Mexico, it is a blessing to not be a part of the significant red vs. blue politics afflicting the USA. However, they have their own conflict, which polarizes the state.

Red or GreenRed or Green

As the nation gears up for the upcoming fall election, with red and blue candidates battling it out on the political stage, New Mexicans are embroiled in a far more pressing debate: red chile or green chile? With the annual Zozobra Burning just around the corner, residents are putting aside their political differences to focus on the real issues.

Zozobra: The Ultimate Chile Showdown

For those unfamiliar with the Zozobra Burning, it’s a unique New Mexican tradition that takes place each September in Santa Fe. A 50-foot-tall marionette known as “Old Man Gloom” is set ablaze, symbolically burning away the worries and troubles of the past year. But this year, Zozobra’s fate may depend on the outcome of the great chile debate.

“Forget about red states and blue states,” says local Chile enthusiast Juan Sanchez.  “In New Mexico, it’s all about the red chile and green chile.  Whoever wins this battle will determine the future of our state and, more importantly, the flavor of our enchiladas.”

Politicians Weigh In on the Chile Controversy

Red or GreenEven local politicians have been forced to take sides in the chile debate. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, known for her love of green chile, recently declared September “Green Chile Month” in an attempt to sway voters. Not to be outdone, her Republican challenger has been spotted at local diners, smothering his breakfast burritos in red chile sauce.

“I believe in the power of red chile,” He stated at a recent campaign rally. It’s bold, it’s spicy, and it’s the key to unlocking New Mexico’s full potential.”

Zozobra’s Fate Hangs in the Balance

As the Zozobra Burning draws near, organizers are scrambling to determine which type of chile will be used to fuel the flames.  Some argue that green chile’s milder flavor is more inclusive, while others insist that red chile’s fiery kick is necessary to truly banish Old Man Gloom.

“We’re considering a compromise,” reveals event coordinator Lisa Ortega.  “Perhaps we could alternate between red and green chile each year, or even create a new ‘Christmas’ blend, combining both varieties.  After all, isn’t that what New Mexico is all about—coming together despite our differences?”

As the chile debate rages on, one thing is certain: come August 30, New Mexicans will unite in Santa Fe to watch Zozobra burn, their worries and troubles going up in flames along with the giant marionette.  Whether they prefer red chile or green chile, they’ll all be able to agree on one thing—that New Mexico’s unique blend of culture, tradition, and spicy food is what truly makes the state great.

The Burning of Zozobra: A Fiery Tradition to Banish Gloom

Every year, on the Friday before Labor Day, in the city of Santa Fe, tens of thousands of New Mexicans gather to witness a unique and captivating event: the Burning of Zozobra. This 50-foot-tall marionette, known as “Old Man Gloom,” is stuffed with thousands of paper “glooms” from people across the globe, each containing their sorrows, anxieties, and worries from the past year.  As Zozobra burns, so too do these glooms, symbolically releasing the negativity and allowing participants to start anew.

The Origins of Zozobra

Red or GreenThe tradition of burning Zozobra began in 1924 when artist Will Shuster created the first effigy as a highlight of a private party for a group of artists and writers known as the *Los Cinco Pintores*. Shuster was inspired by the Yaqui Indian communities of Arizona and Mexico, who would burn an effigy of Judas during Easter Holy Week.

That first Zozobra was just 6 feet tall and burned in Shuster’s backyard. Over the years, the effigy grew in size, eventually reaching its current towering height of 50 feet. In 1964, Shuster entrusted the tradition to the Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe, which has continued to organize the event as a way to bring the community together and raise funds for local youth programs.

Burning Away the Gloom

The concept of “glooms” originated on a cold Christmas Eve in 1923, when Shuster and his friends were gathered at the La Fonda Hotel lobby bar. Noticing everyone’s sour mood, Shuster had them write down what was bothering them on pieces of paper, which he then collected and burned in an ashtray on a bar table. This act of releasing their troubles brought laughter and a sense of camaraderie to the group. It als got them successfully kicked out of the La Fonda.

Today, people from all over the world can participate in this cathartic ritual by submitting their glooms online.  For as little as $1, these glooms are printed and stuffed into Zozobra’s body, ready to be burned away in the flames[6]. Some even choose to “upgrade” their gloom by attaching files like love letters, divorce papers, parking tickets, or photos of their ex.

Strange and Unusual Glooms

Over the years, Zozobra has been stuffed with an array of unusual items. One year, someone even willed their ashes to be burned inside the effigy. Other strange glooms have included a wedding dress, mortgage papers, bad report cards, and bras from women who have beaten breast cancer.

The burning of Zozobra is more than just a spectacle; it’s a deeply meaningful tradition that allows people to let go of their troubles and start fresh. As the flames consume the marionette, the crowd cheers, knowing that their sorrows are being released into the night sky. The event has become a symbol of unity and resilience for the people of Santa Fe and beyond.

So, if you find yourself in Santa Fe on August 30, 2024, the Friday before Labor Day, join the thousands who gather to watch Zozobra burn for the 100th time. Write down your own glooms, stuff them into the effigy, and feel the weight of your worries lift as the flames dance into the night. If not, you can send in your “Glooms” via their website at  Look us up; we might just be in town for a “Christmas (Red and Green) stuffed sopapilla at Tomasita’s.” As true citizens of the world, Santa Fe still has a special place in our hearts, and being there for so many years makes us locals.


Checkout the 2023 Zozobra Buring below

Share With A Friend

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply