Saturday, 21 September 2013 16:16

Zozobra - 1943

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In 1943, America was at war. Despite this, the Santa Fe Fiesta, with its opening night burning of Zozobra, was held. That year produced the most unusual Zozobra before or since.

Zozobra (Old Man Gloom) had been created by artist Will Shuster and his friends in 1926. His immolation was a sign of sending up in flames all of the bad thoughts and events of the previous year, giving everyone a fresh start. It is difficult to imagine a year where this would be more meaningful than 1943.

That year, Shuster combined the eyes and glasses of Emperor Hirohito, the hair and brush mustache of Adolf Hitler and the prominent chin of Benito Mussolini into a Zozobra that he named Hirohitmus.

However, in late July, 1943, Mussolini was deposed and imprisoned by the Allied forces. In the Sunday, August 15, 1943 issue of the Brooklyn Eagle there appeared an article under the heading “Sign of the Times” which commented:

“Famed Fiesta at Santa Fe, N.M., each September used to have a three-faced figure called Zozobra, “Old Man Gloom” which was burned at the stake. This year artist Will Shuster thought it would be a nice idea to call the effigy “Zozobra Hirohitmus.” So he did. Last week, however, he announced that he had changed the name, of necessity, to “Zozobra Hirohittlepus.” Added that he was in the market for more changes.”

Hirohitmus or Hirohittlepus, he was burned and Santa Fe felt a little better. By 1945, it was evident that it must have helped.

This photo also shows the way that Zozobra was ignited then.  There is a wall of tumbleweeds 3 - 4 feet deep in front of Zozobra and stacks of wood in front of the tumbleweeds.  The wood piles (luminarias) were lit first and then the tumbleweeds.  Zozobra burned from the ground up after that.

 

- Mike Lord

(PHOTO COURTESY OF DAVID RULON)

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