Jean Leon Gerome Ferris
Thanksgiving is a day usually filled with remembrances of smells of turkey and pumpkin pie, uncles and aunts, cousins, football and fall weather. But a review of the underlying history of Thanksgiving reveals a story that is far from the Norman Rockwell image of Dad carving a turkey at the dining room table in some imaginary New England home.
The real Thanksgiving celebration most likely only occurred once…and lasted three days. Neither turkey, nor potatoes, nor pumpkin pie were on the menu, but waterfowl and venison were – oh, and unsweetened cranberries (as no sugar was yet available in New England). This Thanksgiving was a very appropriate one. The first English pilgrims landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621 with hardly any survival skills suited to their new land. Most died during that first winter from starvation and exposure to the elements. 1622 proved no different; in fact, it wasn’t until 1623 that the harvests became more reliable and bountiful. If it were not for a sole Patuxet Native named Squanto, colonization would likely have been set back by decades.
To paint a more balanced picture than Norman Rockwell’s, it is rarely mentioned that in 1614, English explorers initially returned to England in ships loaded with as many as 500 Patuxet Indian slaves bound for market. This was the hapless tribe that happened to be at ground zero of these European explorers’ arrival. Later, when New England’s first settlers arrived, only one Patuxet remained alive, English-speaking Squanto, who had survived slavery in England and returned later to New England thanks to the graces of a befriended Englishman. During the first two horrible years of near starvation, the Pilgrims were taught by Squanto and the neighboring Wampanoaga people how to grow corn and to survive in this new land. Squanto also negotiated a peace treaty for the Pilgrims with the nearby and very large Wampanoaga tribe. At the end of the hardships of the first year, there indeed was a 3-day Thanksgiving feast honoring Squanto and their new neighbors, the Wampanoagas, but in reality the harvest was meager and there was little to eat that winter following this thanksgiving.
Despite the continual hardship, the word spread throughout England of this newly found “paradise” in America, so countless new settlers arrived. And as always in such situations, when a more technologically superior people enter a less advanced peoples’ land, tensions increased between races until a state of war for survival arose. And such was the case with the New England Natives and the waves of land and freedom hungry colonists. Unfortunately, soon both governors and clergy began calling for days of thanksgiving following successful victories against the natives.
In 1789, President George Washington called for “ a day of Thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favours of God Almighty”. In 1863, during the Civil War, to foster a sense of national unity, Abraham Lincoln set the date as the last Thursday in November. FDR in 1939 set the date as the 4th Thursday of November to add additional economic energy prior to Xmas, and hence the term Black Friday was probably coined, commemorating the day when retailers went from being in the red to being in the black. Our consumer driven culture solidified over the 20th century the iconic foods, settings, and modern traditions of our national holiday.
Now with the history under our soon-to-be straining belts, how better to celebrate Thanksgiving than coming to the land of the ancient Pueblos who had already been in existence for hundreds of years prior to the English explorers’ arrival on this continent?
The Inn on the Alameda’s restaurant, the Agoyo Lounge, traditionally prepares a “reservations-recommended” Thanksgiving dinner for guests and locals alike. We cook up a unique and special menu, which you can view on our website. Please join us around the fires to enjoy a day of thanksgiving for living in one of the greatest countries in the world and certainly enjoying it in one of the greatest and most unique cities in the world.
As with most historical ceremonies held by Santa Fe, the oldest capital city in the US, the tradition of the burning of this 50-foot tall effigy is linked to Spanish traditions, such as Fiestas, a celebration originally conceived in 1712 commemorating the peaceful re-conquest of Santa Fe by Don Diego de Vargas in 1692. Fiestas is both a civic and religious experience, lasting several days over a weekend in late summer, that includes the Children’s Pet Parade, which is not to be missed, as families decorate every imaginable pet from snakes to burros for a parade around the Plaza. Also a Hysterical/Historical Parade, poking fun at the town’s hysteria over its history. There is also an historically accurate and lavishly costumed re-enactment of the Entrada when Don Diego de Vargas returned to Santa Fe carrying the statue of La Madonna, which the fleeing Spanish had taken with them in 1680 at the outbreak of the Pueblo Revolt. As with most Santa Fe celebrations, there are food booths, an arts and crafts fair, dancing and a general sense of “fiesta” throughout the town with everyone yelling “Que Viva!” This is an abbreviated two-word phrase, meaning: “Long live Fiesta!”
image from reportingtexas.com
In the midst of all of the fiesta splendor, there is one less cheerful event – a celebration of a darker sort: The Burning of Zozobra: Old Man Gloom.
In 1924, two of Santa Fe’s original Cinco Pintores (5 painters), conceived the idea of creating the opportunity for people to annually dispose of their worries and woes. Santa Feans, Gustauve Baumann and Will Shuster created the concept and subsequent tradition of the public burning of a 50-foot paper mache effigy of an old man by the name of Zozobra. Zozobra is Spanish for anxiety and people are encouraged to write down their sorrows, bad memories, general woes and even legal papers that they wish to see go up in smoke. A “sorrows” box is placed at the base of Zozobra into which, during the day of burning, people can drop their notes and documents as fodder for the grandest and most attended bonfire of the year.
This giant old man gloom is built with hidden speakers, arms that mechanically wave, eyes that creepily dart from side to side, and even jaws that move. As the final hours before the burning of Old Man Gloom wind down, up to 50,000 people – young and old – fill Fort Marcy Park in excited anticipation of the lighting and burning of Zozobra. First everyone waits for dusk…then dancers appear taunting and gyrating at the old man’s base as thick, black smoke begins to slowly rise. Then the air is permeated with groans and moans, coming from the gut of Zozobra himself…People are yelling “Burn Him!” and hooting and hollering in anticipation of the final act of destruction of this Old Man Gloom. The excitement is electric and everyone is swept up into the contagious thrill of this amazing tradition. Many people’s memories go back to their earliest childhood years and the roar of pleasure when the flames finally burst up through the middle of the effigy is deafening!
This event is always worth the effort. Go early; bring folding chairs and beverages and snacks (no alcohol can be legally allowed inside the park for everyone’s safety). Spread out your blankets and bring the family, as this is traditionally a very family friendly evening. Zozobra is just one of the many events in our hometown that makes us the City Different and this is a weekend to attend at least several times in your life.
We hope you stop by the Inn on the Alameda and join us for a drink and toast to the burning of Zozobra and the disbursement of all our sorrows into the smoke filled heavens.
We’re thinking holidays, how about you? Planning to travel to New Mexico in December? We are happy to offer some suggestions to make your Santa Fe holiday travel bright!
Here at the Inn on the Alameda, we welcome the arrival of the winter holiday season by lighting the Chanukah candles on Saturday, December 8 after sunset.
On Sunday, December 9, beginning at 3:00pm, Chabad Santa Fe invites everyone to attend a free Chanukah event on the Santa Fe Plaza, with a Community Menorah Lighting followed by a concert, featuring Jono Manson. And the Inn is also delighted to welcome any of our guests to light the candles in our Lobby on any of the eight nights of Chanukah.
Also on December 9, the annual holiday tradition of Las Posadas, a re-eanctment of the Holy Family’s search for shelter, takes place beginning at 5:30pm on the Plaza. This procession begins at the Palace pf the Governors and processes around the Plaza, and all are welcome to join. The devil makes an appearance to taunt the crowd, and booing ensues until an angel appears with a light sending blessings on those assembled. The walk concludes back at the Palace of the Governors, where biscochitos and hot cider are on tap.
Warming Up after Las Posadas
Thanks to the many wonderful museum gift shops and unique boutiques, Santa Fe has great options for picking up a holiday gift that cannot be duplicated. Each museum shop’s selection is curated around the individual museum’s mission, so you can find Native American treasures, Spanish heritage gifts, and folk art oddities. The Plaza area is a mecca for cowboy boots, souvenir potholders, velvet skirts, and of course, jewelry. And don’t worry, guys, there’s a cigar shop if you need to escape !
Case Trading Post at the Wheelwright Museum
Holiday music will be resounding through the City Different, known for its commitment to the musical performance. The Lensic has a roster of lyrical events to pick and choose from. Aaron Neville brings his sweet voice to Santa Fe with a Christmas concert on Monday, December 10 at 7:30pm. The Santa Fe Symphony and Chorus celebrates its birthday in music on Sunday, December 16 at 4:00pm. On Monday, December 17, the Santa Fe Concert Band, led by the inestimable Greg Heltman, offers its annual free concert at 7:00pm; this is your chance to carol! On December 24, at 5:00pm, the Santa Fe Concert Association welcomes an 11-year-old virtuoso pianist and composer, Emily Bear, to perform a Christmas Eve concert, also at the Lensic. And the musical year ends on New Year’s Eve with a performance by the Harlem String Quartet at 5:00pm.
Of course, the Lensic is not our only venue! Santa Fe Pro Musica will be ensconced in the Loretto Chapel for two performances nightly at 6:00pm and 8:00pm from Thursday, December 20 through Monday, December 24, presenting their annual Baroque Christmas Concert. On Saturday, December 29 at 6:00pm and Sunday, December 30 at 3:00pm, Pro Musica offers a Mozart Holiday Concert at the St. Francis Auditorium.
Our Beautiful Cathedral is Perfect for Carols
On December 14, 18, 20, 21 & 22, at 8:00pm, the Santa Fe Desert Chorale presents a concert of Carols and Lullabies in the perfect location for such music, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis. And on Sunday, December 15, the Chorale welcomes any and all to The Big Sing, a performance guaranteed to be the largest choir singing in New Mexico, taking place at 3:00pm at Cristo Rey Church. Not to be outdone, the 12-voice Santa Fe Women’s Ensemble performs A Winter Festival of Song on Saturday, December 14 at 7:00pm at the Loretto Chapel and Sunday, December 15 at 3:00pm at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Chapel.
If you are staying in Santa Fe over the winter holidays, it’s a very good idea to have dinner reservations, and our concierge-trained staff is happy to recommend and reserve for you. We are here to answer all of your holiday questions, whether you are staying with us or not…just ask!
HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM ALL OF US AT THE INN!
A favorite time of year is here! The clement autumn weather is perfect, and the local festivities remind us of how rich and grounded the City Different is in its fascinating history and culture.
One of the oldest capitals in the United States, this colonial city originated with a settlement at San Gabriel founded by Don Juan de Onate in 1598, then was moved to the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in 1610 and formally named La Villa Real de Santa Fe. In 1680, a Pueblo Indian revolt drove the Spanish colonists on a long march back to Guadalupe del Paso, now Juarez, Mexico. The Spanish survivors managed to rescue the wood carved statue of La Conquistadora, brought to Santa Fe in 1625 and still ensconced in our Cathedral.
La Conquistadora in her Cathedral Home
Twelve years later, the King of Spain appointed Don Diego De Vargas to lead the exiles in Guadalupe del Paso on a campaign up north to reclaim and resettle Santa Fe. The endeavor was managed without bloodshed on September 4, 1692, although the Indians again put up resistance when De Vargas returned from a re-provisioning trip down south. On his return, he camped outside the city near the present site of the Rosario Chapel. He prayed to La Conquistadora for her help to re-enter the town, triumphing before year’s end in December 1693. Don Diego pledged to restore her to her throne in the parish church , but he died in 1704 without achieving this goal.
In 1712, city officials drafted a proclamation for an annual celebration to commemorate the peaceful 1692 resettlement. Fiesta de Santa Fe then became a civic reality, with specifications for a mass, vespers, and a sermon. For the last 300 years, La Conquistadora and Don De Vargas, her new-world conquistador, have inspired a unique and enduring hometown celebration.
This week shows off a panoply of Fiesta events, although on the local level the celebration began months ago, when the Fiesta Queen, La Reina, and her court, the Quadrilla, were selected. Having visited schools, churches and senior centers over the course of the year, the court is ready to appear in full regalia.
The 2012 Fiesta Quadrilla
The Concierto de Mariachi takes place on Wednesday, September 5, with two performances, at 10am and 2pm at the Lensic Performing Arts Center. On Wednesday evening at 6pm, State Historian Rick Hendricks examines the complex political landscape of 17th Century New Mexico in a fascinating lecture at the New Mexico History Museum.
On Thursday, September 6, a dour phantasm comes to life for one brief evening, as we burn the 50-ft puppet, Zozobra, familiarly known as Old Man Gloom, repository of the year’s disappointments. Taking place at Fort Marcy Park, entertainment on the field begins at 3pm, but the conflagration does not occur until dark. NOT an event for agoraphobics, the faint of heart or young children.
Zozobra! Photo courtesy of Tobias Roybal, all rights reserved
The official opening of Fiesta takes place on Friday, September 7 at 6am, with the Pregón de la Fiesta. The faithful of Santa Fe gather at Rosario Chapel, where the presiding Mayor of Santa Fe issues the formal proclamation declaring the start of the annual festivity.
From Friday, September 7 through Sunday, September 9, there’ll be food, music and dance all day on the Santa Fe Plaza, with officials from the city, state and county co-celebrating the party commencing at 12noon. And on Friday the 7th, at 2pm on the Plaza, you can witness a re-enactment of the entry of General Don Diego de Vargas and his Cuadrilla in September 1692.
The Desfile de Los Ninos, the annual Pet Parade, takes place on Saturday, September 8 at 9am. This is truly one of the most amusing events of Fiesta, at which you can laugh at a lizard dressed in tiny little conquistador outfit or admire two adorable young ladies dolled up as Fiesta Barbies. The parade route begins across the street from the Inn in the parking lot of the New Mexico School for the Arts and winds down Palace Avenue to Grant Avenue, up to Marcy Street and down to the Plaza where the winners are announced.
Desfile de Los Ninos
La Sociedad Folklorica sponsors a Fiesta Fashion Show on Saturday, September 8 at 3pm at the James A. Little Theatre. La Merienda features vintage clothing from the society’s collection of traditional and antique dresses, and members of the society, along with their daughters and granddaughters, will be modeling the unique fashions. And fashion will be at the forefront at the Gran Baile de la Fiesta, a beloved tradition for over a century. Held in honor of the Fiesta royalty, the Gran Baile takes place at 7:30pm at the Convention Center, and attire will run the gamut from a queen’s robes to those of a monk and everything in between.
The last day of Fiesta, Sunday, September 9th, begins with a walk in the footsteps of New Mexico’s ancestors as they process with La Conquistadora from the Palace of the Governors to the historic Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi. Arrival at the Cathedral is followed by a 10am pontifical mass officiated by the Archbishop of Santa Fe, an inspiring celebration with traditional music, a Native American dance prayer, mariachis and the full Fiesta Court.
The French Tower of Bishop Lamy
Sunday’s showcase event is the Desfile de La Gente, beginning at 12:30pm, a popular parade with high school bands, mariachis, sports teams, queens, floats, and politicians of every color, all of whom eventually end up on the Plaza. Known colloquially as the Historical/Hysterical Parade, this is always a lively local anything-goes event.
The official closing ceremonies of Fiesta take place at 5:15pm on the Plaza, and are followed by a solemn procession to the Cross of the Martyrs on the Paseo de Peralta beginning with mass at 7pm at the Cathedral. Participants wend their candle-lit way through the historic downtown, up the hill to the cross where the small vigil bonfires known as luminarias will be seen flickering in the dark.
The Cross of the Martyrs
Come join us for the fun – VIVAN LAS FIESTAS DE SANTA FE!
The One-of-a-Kind Santa Fe Opera
It’s been my great, good fortune to have seen the entire Santa Fe Opera season, and to my mind (recall that yours truly is an opera enthusiast not a music critic), Mr. McKay and company saved the best for last! The programming has been so thoughtful and creative, opening the summer season with the tried-and-true crowd pleasers, and then moving on to the more unusual offerings. Certainly an opera by a Polish composer sung in Polish by a Polish baritone qualifies as unusual. And more to the point, it’s stunning!
Crisis in the Court of King Roger; Photo by Ken Howard
Karol Szymanowski’s King Roger was so good that I had to see it twice and wouldn’t hesitate to see it yet again if the opportunity presents. Following the premiere of Rossini’s riveting Venetian drama Maometto II by a week, the opera is set in the same Byzantine era of Italy, this time in Sicily, and the casting was perfection. The incredibly rich voice of Mariusz Kwiecien in the title role anchored this unique offering with heft and clarity. The story line suited Santa Fe well, as it is a tale of the conflict between earthly duty and spiritual longing, a very City Different dilemna. Roger’s kingly realm is challenged by the appearance of The Shepherd, artfully sung and acted by tenor William Burden, who offers the kingdom a Dionysian life of carefree joy, ultimately leading away not only Roger’s subjects, but also his beloved queen.
A King and His Queen; Photo by Ken Howard
Erin Morley is vocally thrilling as Queen Roxana, believable in appearance and blessed with a beautiful voice. The role of Roger’s counselor, Edrisi, loyally committed to protecting his king, is clearly covered by Dennis Peterson. And I loved seeing Raymond Aceto, who is terrific as the villainous Scarpia in SFO’s current Tosca, appearing here as the Archbishop…nice switch from devilry to devotion! The orchestra? Just superb under the talented baton of Evan Rogister, who we hope will return to Santa Fe in seasons to come. While it’s puzzling indeed that this opera has languished through the years, we’re lucky and grateful that it came to the stage in Santa Fe!
Pomp and Circumstance; Photo by Ken Howard
The last entry on the Opera’s “dance card” is Richard Strauss’ Arabella, a thoughtful and welcome acknowledgement of founder John Crosby’s favorite composer. This was 2 1/2 hours of sublime music, not heard on the Santa Fe stage since 1997, and a treat for Strauss-lovers like me, who have had to wait since 2007 to hear that big complex orchestration. Although librettist Hugo von Hofmannsthal passed away before he finished this poetic tale, leaving Strauss himself to hold it together, as the Opera’s General Director Charles MacKay told me, “The music is so luscious, I sometimes forget to look at the words.” The lively conducting of Sir Andrew Davis certainly made that happen to me!
Arabella and Mandryka; Photo by Ken Howard
The role of Arabella, marriage fodder for the financial hopes of her family, is sung by Erin Wall, last seen in Santa Fe as Strauss’ Daphne, and she unerringly handled the demands of a Strauss soprano. As Arabella’s successful suitor, the burly land baron Mandryka, Mark Delavan threw himself into the role, both vocally and dramatically. The Count and Countess Waldner, Arabella’s parents, are ably sung by Dale Travis and Victoria Livengood. And Brian Jagde, who bravely stepped into the role of Cavardossi in Tosca this summer at the last minute, sings the part he actually came for, that of Count Elemer, egotistically convinced that his wooing of Arabella is a fait accompli.
“Zdenko” Gets Her Man, Eventually; Photo by Ken Howard
Heidi Stober is touching and convincing in the pants role of Zdenka, Arabella’s sister who is forced by family misfortune – oh, the costs of “bringing out” a Viennese daughter – to live life as a boy, of course named Zdenko. In his SFO debut, Zach Borichevsky ardently sings the role of Matteo, Arabella’s youthful suitor, who accidentally wins the hand of the other sister, so obviously in love with him, suit and tie notwithstanding! Kiri Deonarine sings the intense role of Fiakermilli, quite a feat without any first act lines for warm up. Apprentices Suzanne Hendrix, Chrsitian Saunders, Jonathan Michie, Joseph Beuatel, Ryan Milstead, Matthew Newlin and Edwin Vega fill out the cast with verve.
Give Yourself this Joy of Opera; Photo by Ken Howard
Every one of my opera experiences this summer left me wide-eyed, and I have to agree with Arabella herself who sang, “I lie awake, unable to sleep for sheer happiness.” Give yourself that gift, and see one of these five terrific productions. Or better yet, if you can, see them all!
For lovers of art and heritage, the upcoming weekend promises many delights, as the 61st annual Santa Fe Spanish Market swings into the Plaza. With 183 artists in the Market, and an additional 52 youth artists exhibiting their work, this is an artistic and familial legacy that continues to grow in size and quality.
Spanish Market on the Santa Fe Plaza
Taking place on the historic Plaza, on Saturday and Sunday, July 28 and 29, from 8:30 am to 5 pm, the Market offers something for everyone, from straw applique to retablos to engraving to weaving and calaveras, too. If we’re lucky, we might even see some of that beautiful and increasingly rare colcha embroidery!
Calaveras con Corazon
And if your taste runs more to the cutting edge, the Contemporary Hispanic Market runs concurrently, spread along both sides of Lincoln Avenue, with 134 booths of art and artistry to peruse or purchase.
There will be food, of course, since it’s Santa Fe, and among other tasty events, there’s a cooking class with John Vollertsen, “Spanish Influence on New Mexico’s Norteno Cooking,” at Las Cosas on July 26 at 10 am. And if you just can’t make time for that class, don’t forget that the Inn offers a Muy Sabrosa Cooking Experience with the experts from the Santa Fe School of Cooking, soon to be fully ensconced in their new location.
La Comida Muy Sabrosa!
Also on July 26, John Schaefer lectures on “Collecting Spanish Colonial Art” at Peyton Wright Gallery at 4:30 pm. On Friday July 27, at 9:30 am, Patina Gallery hosts a breakfast reception and lecture on the work of Enric Majoral. On Friday evening, a Market Preview opens at the Santa Fe Convention Center at 7 pm.
Listen for “la musica,” not only during the Saturday-Sunday Market itself. On Thursday, July 26, the Santa Fe Bandstand series gets into the act with homegrown favorites, Andy Primm and Alex Maryol, performing on the Plaza from 6 to 9 pm. Performances by the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival take place in St. Francis Auditorium on Thursday, July 26 at noon and 6 pm, Friday, July 27 at 6 pm, Saturday, July 27 at 6 pm, and Sunday, July 28 at 5 pm. The Santa Fe Desert Chorale offers a concert, “Celebrating the Centenery,” at 8 pm on Saturday, July 28 at the New Mexico History Museum. The Santa Fe Opera serves up Giaochino Rossini’s Maometto II on Friday the 27th at 8:30 pm, and on Saturday the 28th, also at 8:30 pm, the premiere of Richard Strauss’ Arabella rounds out the season’s repertoire.
It looks like it will be a great weekend…will we see you there?