New Mexico’s early Spanish colonists made little bonfires of burning pinon to light the way for the Christ child’s visit on Christmas Eve. These small farolitos brightened processional routes to midnight mass in the village/ pueblo church. They were placed along pathways to homes, and a little fire in front of each home was kept burning throughout the night.
Modern New Mexicans continue this traditional luminaria lure, by using commercial candles, sand, and paper bags. Candles flickering in these ceramic clay horsehair fired luminarias bags made by BURNTEARTH HORSEHAIR FIRED POTTERY continue this festive Christmas customs. I cut into the front of the bag and leave open spaces to show the light of the candles.
Luminarias today are still lit by simple folk whose hearts believe the Christ child wanders softly through the night and blesses all who set a guiding light.
When I escaped from Kansas at a very young age to New Mexico that first year was learning about the customs and traditions of New Mexico. One that we truly fell in love with was setting up luminaria bags on Christmas Eve. It became so popular that 10’s of thousands of people would come to Albuquerque to stay on Christmas Eve and tour the city viewing the lights. It became so commercialized that after I became a traffic cop I spent too many years to remember directing traffic or leading tours of buses full of people enjoying the view. We have done this in my family for years and have pasted it on to the grandchildren. In the 22 years of doing this, it only snowed once on Christmas Eve and that night it was the most beautiful and memorable Christmas Eve I had.
I offer different size bags and prices range from $5-$50. Along with a wide variety of patterns including a Southwestern Adobe Home with drying chiles, a Native American turtle symbol and several NM pueblo churches are drawn on the front along with first American symbols.
Here is a great photo of our luminaria’s in Los Angeles, CA! No snow and they use electric lights!
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