Thursday, December 6, 2007

The farolitos of Christmas in New Mexico



I’ve never spent Christmas in New Mexico. That is one of my unfulfilled dreams that I hope will come true in 2008.

The symbol of the Christmas season in New Mexico is the luminaria, which is called farolito in northern New Mexico. Christian believers in New Mexico place farolitos outside their homes at Christmas to light the way of the Christ Child to their homes.



The most beautiful farolitos are the lighted candles in brown paper bags, which give off a soft peaceful glow in the December night. In recent years, electric luminaries have made their appearance, but they are nowhere near as beautiful to me.


I have been in New Mexico several times at Thanksgiving and in December In past years. It is probably the most wonderful time of the entire year there. My hope is that by Christmas 2008, I will not be a visitor, but a resident, and my new home in Santa Fe will be lined with glowing farolitos.

15 comments:

Lin said...

I have no doubt that you WILL be here by then!

Towanda said...

Lin, So far so good. We are on schedule at this point. Santa Fe or bust ~ May or June 2008.

Buck Pennington said...

You don't see too many luminaries in Portales, unless they're the electric kind. I think it's the wind, but I could be wrong.

Strangely enough, the first time I saw luminaries on mass display was in Ferndale, Michigan... a suburb of Detroit. I lived in an older sub-division in Ferndale; the houses were built around the late 1920s (mine was built in 1928), so it was a well-established old neighborhood with streets lined with towering oak trees.

The first Christmas The Second Mrs. Pennington and I were in our house she happened to look outside just after dusk... and the street was lined with luminaries. We immediately went out for a walk and found the whole sub-division... about eight square blocks worth... was lined with luminaries. Real ones, too... candles inside white paper bags. Turns out the neighborhood association put them out every year and it was quite the local attraction, with lotsa cars driving thru from all over Detroit.

So. My oh-so-lengthy comment about a beautiful tradition that isn't only limited to New Mexico!!

Towanda said...

We used to have luminarias in our subdivision here in Kansas, too. Residents would line their yards with them and light them on Christmas Eve. Oh, how I used to love those Christmases; luminarias have a softer glow and look more peaceful than other Christmas decorations. Over the years the practice declined and a few years ago, the HOA decided to discontinue the tradition. I guess that is how this area differs from New Mexico; in NM the luminarias/farolitos continue to be a part of Christmas as they have been for many many years.

Lin said...

Towanda, I'll warn you up front that Sally calls them luminarias so you will have to insist that they are called farolitos in your neck of the woods.
I also wanted to say THANK YOU for the wonderful thoughts you sent my way. I can't wait for you to meet up with Red and Sally - they are true friend quality people as well.

Towanda said...

Actually Sally and I won't have a problem because I refer to them as luminarias most of the time too....and I know that is what they are called everywhere except northern New Mexico. So ... before I move, I am trying to train myself to say "farolitos" so I can be correct when I get there.

Lin said...

Towanda, I just found another NM blog worth visiting:
http://www.valofvals.blogspot.com/

Towanda said...

Hey Lin ... Thanks for the tip. I checked it out, and it's another good blog to add to the favorites list. Cool

clairz said...

Towanda, I wish I was good at night photography, because our area is filled with luminarias. But you'll be able to see them yourself everywhere around you by next Christmas.

Merry Christmas to you!

~Clair Z.

Towanda said...

Thanks clair! Merry Christmas to you too. I am intrigued and interested in all the unique Christmas traditions in New Mexico. Hopefully by next Christmas we can be a part of it all!

Buck Pennington said...

"Next year in Santa Fe!"

Merry Christmas, Towanda!

Catmoves said...

Merry Christmas Towanda. I suppose you know that "luminaria" translates into "burning bag"? And "Farolito" means "not enough sand"?
Have fun when you get to Little Hollywood, N.M.

Towanda said...

catmoves:

I like those definitions; easy to remember. That works for me. haha!

WOW! That might be the closest I ever get to Hollywood!

Lin said...

Happy New Year to you, too! Remember ... soon!!!

Buck said...

Heh. I put up a google link to farolitos in today's post... and guess who popped up? ;-)