Sunday, December 24, 2006

Festivals, Joy, and Lights

I can't think of anything I love more than the display of lights around the world in winter celebrations. Every culture is unique. There is something exceptionally fiery about the Mexican character that I discovered when I lived in Santa Fe. Farolitos filled the whole city at Christmas, bonfires were lit, and mixed with the usual Anglo-American colored electric lights, it was a sight to behold. The farolitos are little bags of sand with real fire inside.
Another event that the Spanish New Mexicans celebrate in the fall is the burning of Zozobra, Old Man Gloom. I went to the site outside of town where there was a huge, and I mean really huge effigy of this god erected. Strange sounds were coming from this giant and when the fire was lit, it was mystical and filled my body with a sensation I will never forget. Awe-inspiring to the maximum.
Zozobra - history
Southwestern Christmas - Luminarias and Farolitos
Since the Homeowner's Association would most likely frown upon paper bags with fire on my patio, the best I can do on this wonderful unique night of the year is light some candles to express my reverence and hope for a good conclusion to this year, 2006, and a bright and fulfilling coming year for all of us. I'm confident.

 Top photo by Schmatzy. Second photo by Diana Lundin.


Blogger Tseka said...

Votives fill my living room, line the windowsills they twine with the stars outside. Glass windows on three sides, woodstove crackling and a happy Zamma make for sublime enjoyment of this winter night. Sirius, flickers blue / red in the east.

24/12/06 6:55 PM  
Blogger Tseka said...

Burning old man gloom - what a great idea.

24/12/06 7:11 PM  
Blogger jm said...

tseka, what a joy to share this Christmas with you.

they twine with the stars outside

As we do.

24/12/06 7:13 PM  
Blogger jm said...

Yes. I think I must recall this burning every year. Gloom comes and goes.

The experience of watching this I think changed me permanently. Even though it has humor, the undecurrent is entirely serious. Not a bad idea to ritually burn away the gloom.

Zozobra is so real it's shocking. His joy in burning is exhuberant.

I didn't realize until just now that this is unique to Santa Fe and non religious.

24/12/06 7:18 PM  
Blogger Kadimiros said...

Oh, beautiful scenes! What a gift for the eyes.

Old Man Gloom is like the old year going out, making way for the youthful new year. Is that old-young thing supposed to be a Capricorn motif?

24/12/06 7:58 PM  
Blogger jm said...

Is that old-young thing supposed to be a Capricorn motif?

Absolutely. The equinox is the climax of youth. When Uranus goes into Aries and squares Pluto in Capricorn this play will be on a grand scale.

Capricorn is said to be gloomy. But maybe there is a hidden kmowledge, manifest in his humor, that knows what's coming.

24/12/06 8:03 PM  
Anonymous Joe said...

Sirius does indeed flicker, and with every color, in the East. I saw it rise tonight when I went out for a cold walk in the dark, out in the countryside. The three stars in the belt of Orion point downward at it. And if I could be outside before dawn tomorrow, I would look for Virgo rising ahead of the Sun! :o)

24/12/06 8:54 PM  
Anonymous Joe said...

I made luminaria for the Solstice one year. That was a year when we actually had snow, and I had white paper bags with white votives inside. It made for a very bright display. Maybe next year I will make the ice candles, as the Finns do: you place large candles in coffee canisters of water, with the top of the candles just above the water, and freeze the whole canister. When they are solid, you remove the block of ice, light the candles and set them outside. The ice causes the candles to burn slower than they would ordinarily.
Tseka, maybe you know more about this than I do...

24/12/06 8:58 PM  
Blogger jm said...

Our roving star reporter!

You're a natural for astrology joe!

24/12/06 8:59 PM  
Blogger jm said...

What a World!

24/12/06 11:34 PM  
Blogger jm said...

Over the years the effigy has grown larger, reaching a height of 49 feet in 2001. Zozobra is a well crafted framework of preplanned and pre-cut sticks, covered with chicken wire and yards of muslin. It is stuffed with bushels of shredded paper, which traditionally includes obsolete police reports, paid off mortgage papers, and even personal divorce papers.

That's gloom for ya, except for the paid off mortgage.

25/12/06 12:09 AM  

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