Saturday, December 21, 2013

New Mexico Christmas Traditions

The San Geronimo Church is located at the historic
Taos Pueblo. It is a Catholic church for the Pueblo people
honoring the Catholic side of their faith and traditions.

On Christmas Eve, the Taos Pueblo becomes a meeting place for the community.
Large bonfires warm residents and visitors,
who stand around talking and sipping hot chocolate.

Everyone waits for the procession.
The statue of the virgin Mary is carried on a liter
around a circular path in the main open plaza.
She is brought back into the church
where Christmas Eve services take place for the Pueblo people.

When I think of luminarias, I think of these bonfires
set up for processions, which were also used during neighbor celebrations
of spiritual plays like Los Pastores and Las Pasadas to guide participants
to a host home, where food would be served.

However, luminaria is also a term used for brown paper bags
with sand and a candle. They are a Southwestern version of outdoor
Christmas lights. They are also called farolitos, or "little lanterns".

These luminarias are a tradition around the state.
In Albuquerque's Old Town, there is even a luminaria
bus tour of the surrounding neighborhoods.

Since such bags of light are so commonly used,
but take time to light individually,
a more modern invention is the "electrolito"
This is an electric version of a strand of farolitos.

 These are lights strung on an electric cord like traditional Christmas lights,
but the light is in a plastic rectangular base.
The base is used to hold a brown plastic wrap made to look like a brown bag.
When you see farolitos on roof-tops, along hotels or churches,
or other difficult to light places, chances are, you are looking at electrolitos