Posts from November 2021

The History of Luminarias and How to Make Them

Monday, November 22, 2021 10:00 AM by Andrea

The glowing brown sacks that adorn Albuquerque walkways, churches and homes each holiday season are called luminarias (sometimes called farolitos), or “little lanterns,” and date back more than 300 years. The New Mexican tradition began when Spanish villages along the Rio Grande displayed the unique and easy-to-make lanterns to welcome the Christ child into the world. Today, Albuquerque residents make luminarias out of brown paper bags that have been folded at the top and filled with a couple of cups of sand with a votive candle in the center. But luminarias or farolitos have not always been made out of paper bags. The early versions were actually small bonfires of crisscrossed piñon branches that were built in three-foot-high squares. As paper became more widely available, luminarias evolved into what they are today. Instead of making paper lanterns that would hang in a tree or from a roof, which would become damaged by the wind, small paper bags were placed on the ground, on rooftops and along pathways. Many churches, families and neighborhoods around Albuquerque decorate their homes and businesses with luminarias for the holidays. In Old Town, where they line the walkways by the hundreds throughout the plaza, their simple light transforms into an impressive and welcoming glow, leading to the historic San Felipe de Neri Church and its Christmas Eve mass. Spectators enjoy the annual tradition of a stroll through the magnificent holiday light display, or a driving tour through Historic Old Town and the nearby Albuquerque Country Club neighborhood.   How to Make a Luminaria…