We began our Christmas celebrations on Christmas Eve with a walk along Canyon Road.
People use luminarias or farolitos to decorate the path to their
door as well as outlining the roofline of their home with these warm
inviting lights. People in Albuquerque tend to call the paper bag
lanterns, luminarias, but natives from Santa Fe insist the correct term
is farolitos. Historically, a true luminaria is a series of small
bonfires lining the roads but the terms are used interchangeably.
These lights have their roots in the 1800's. Small bonfires, like the
current day bonfires on the corners of Canyon Road in Santa Fe, were
used to guide people to Christmas Mass. Quite often they were set out
during the final night of Las Posadas, the symbolic representation of
Mary and Joseph seeking shelter in Bethlehem walking from home to home
before Jesus was born. In later days, children carried small farolitos as they reenacted Las Posadas.