Kiwanis: What are Glooms?

Aug 30, 2022

Burn My Gloom | Gift A Gloom



On a cold Christmas Eve in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1923 right after World War I’s finale, Will Shuster and his buddies were hanging out at the La Fonda bar.

Will noticed all his buddies were in a bad mood, so he had them write down the things that were bothering them on pieces of paper. He collected them, and then burned them. He and his friends were then kicked out of La Fonda that night. 

They stood on the Plaza, the heart of Santa Fe, a city whose history was filled with antagonism, diplomacy, laughter, sobs and heartaches. They all as one began to laugh at the situation they found themselves in. Their world had grown larger. It was then that Will Shuster noted the power of writing down the glooms of one’s life. 

A gloom can be as simple as a plea to oneself to let go of the gloom you may have caused others, the gloom weighing down your family, holding down your spirit.

Will’s experience that night was the first spark that eventually led to Zozobra in 1924.

What are Glooms?

Glooms are pieces of paper on that people write down their sorrows, their problems, their anxieties, and worries which have made them feel gloomy during the last year. 

For nearly 100 years, the city of Santa Fe has burned Zozobra, Old Man Gloom, stuffing his 50-foot marionette body from head to toe with thousands of paper glooms from all over New Mexico, and across the globe.

Filled with worry, woe, and negativity, Old Man Gloom is stuffed with firecrackers, too!


Glooms That Have Been Burned During Zozobra in the Past

A wedding dress… Love letters… Divorce Papers… Bad grades and report cards… Mortgage papers… Bras from women who have beaten cancer… Hospital gowns… An expensive guitar… 

You name it! One year, someone even willed their ashes to burn in the Zozobra!


The Legacy Continues – Zozobra, “Old Man Gloom”

Burn your gloom and send it away through this weird, giant, moaning and groaning marionette wailing as he burns and crumbles at the feet of the mighty Fire Spirit.

People write down and place their glooms right on Zozobra during the days leading up to the Burning of Zozobra, for him to symbolically take away amidst the flames, smoke, and fury.

“You can see how sacred the act of writing down and placing a gloom on Zozobra is for those that participate in ZozoFest.” — Ray Sandoval

Burning your gloom starts at $1. Fill out your gloom online, which will be printed out and burned with Zozobra.. You can even “upgrade” your gloom and choose which part of his puppet body to place your gloom. Or gift a gloom to a friend, family member, first responders, or your child’s teacher.

This year, we’re going to do it all together again! “Burn My Gloom,” this Friday, September 2, 2022.


What To Expect From Your Secular Experience of ABSOLUTION

Submit your glooms online by Friday, September 2 till 8pm. Watch Zozobra burn with all your gloom on Friday. The day after the burning you will receive an email with a Certificate of Destruction from the Fire Spirit.

You can upgrade your gloom to attach a file, such as any of the following:

  • Love letters
  • Paid off mortgage papers (or not paid off – we dare you!)
  • Emails (ugh!)
  • That horrible text you would like to forget
  • Pictures of your ex
  • Parking tickets
  • Bad habits your trying to correct
  • Divorce papers

In other words, ANYTHING you wish to send up to the stratosphere through this massive burning before thousands of community members — all of us willing away our troubles by wish, song, and dance, as we ultimately watch in awe and silence as gloom is burned away from inhibiting our lives.

The majority of the paper gloom proceeds go to various local nonprofits that benefit children and underserved youths in our community. Therefore, you are not only destroying your own gloom — you are helping to eliminate the gloom of children in need!

You get the picture! Burn, baby, burn! Light the fire for freedom from past sins, hurts, and troubles, free for a fresh start. Join gloomburners from around the world Friday, September 2, and let’s burn our worry and gloom away!

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In Stock products ship USPS in the United States. Orders placed after 9/1/21 may experience longer than normal shipping times due to an influx in orders during this time. Please inquire before ordering if you are on a delivery deadline. Please also contact us for international shipping options.

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