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8 Farolito Photos to Brighten The Holiday

Nothing warms the heart and brings the holidays to life  like the beauty of candlelight and crackling fire. Santa Fe has a long tradition of magical holiday lights that glow with the warm spirit of tradition. Through out the holidays, farolitos  line the streets and rooftops of houses and businesses in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The farolitos are constructed of a brown paper bag, sand , and a votive or tea candle.

In modern times,  the lights have been adopted throughout the Southwest, and sometimes combined with strings of plastic sacks and electric bulbs.

Farolitos adorn adobe walls on the eastside of Santa Fe. Photo courtesy of Jack Parsons
Farolitos adorn adobe walls on the eastside of Santa Fe. Photo courtesy of Jack Parsons

Farolitos” and “luminarias” are often interchangeably used in New Mexico to name the lights.  In Santa Fe and elsewhere in northern New Mexico, there is a long-held distinction between farolito, meaning a small  paper lantern, and luminaria, meaning a small vigil fire or bonfire. In northern New Mexico, especially, the bonfire is traditionally constructed of fragrant piñon branches crisscrossed and stacked like a small box.  In a land which has had a large Catholic population,  farolitos and luminarias traditionally have had a religious, symbolic significance for lighting the way of the Holy Family on Christmas Eve.

These warm lights are  used to mark a home hosting Las Posadas, a neighborhood re-enactment of Joseph and Mary’s search for a place to stay (a posada is an inn) which takes place each night for nine nights before Christmas and includes singing, praying, and food.

Luminarias is the word used in Santa Fe for the bonfires found around the Canyon Road neighborhood on Christmas Eve. It is said, too, that these luminarias were originally used to light the way to midnight mass on Christmas Eve.

A walk through Abeyta Street on Christmas Eve will enchant you. Photo courtesy of Palace of the Governors Photo Archives
A walk through Abeyta Street on Christmas Eve will enchant you. Photo courtesy of Palace of the Governors Photo Archives

Not to be missied is one of Santa Fe’s most beloved holiday traditions, the Canyon Road Farolito Walk, lights up the hearts and souls of thousands who stroll the iconic road on Christmas Eve. Known for world class galleries, Canyon Road transforms into a work of art itself during this annual celebration that is unique to Santa Fe. It is also said that these farolitos and luminarias were originally used to light the way to midnight mass on Christmas Eve.

 

Farolito after farolito sit atop many a wall on Garcia Street. Photo courtesy of Lucinda
Farolito after farolito sit atop many a wall on Garcia Street. Photo courtesy of Lucinda
Snowy evenings + farolitos = Pure Santa Fe Joy Photo courtesy of John Feins
Snowy evenings + farolitos = Pure Santa Fe Joy Photo courtesy of John Feins
One of the most photographed buildings in Santa Fe will shine this holiday season. Photo courtesy of Nedra Westwater
One of the most photographed buildings in Santa Fe will shine this holiday season. Photo courtesy of Nedra Westwater
Be sure to take a stroll on Canyon Road on Christmas Eve. Photo courtesy of FX Cordero
Be sure to take a stroll on Canyon Road on Christmas Eve. Photo courtesy of FX Cordero
There’s nothing like a farolito glow on a snowy night on Canyon Road. Photo courtesy of Blonde Coyote
There’s nothing like a farolito glow on a snowy night on Canyon Road. Photo courtesy of Blonde Coyote
Many homes pull out all the stops for farolito displays. Photo: Tourism Santa Fe
Many homes pull out all the stops for farolito displays. Photo: City of Santa Fe, TOURISM Santa Fe

Make sure you have comfortable shoes and warm clothing, because this is an outdoor walk, with many local streets closed to vehicles. Just picture it: One night, carols ringing out, thousands of farolitos a-glow. And then this bucket-list experience becomes a beautiful memory until the next holiday season rolls around. Please be sure to obtain your 2016 Santa Fe travel guide!

 

 

 

One thought on “8 Farolito Photos to Brighten The Holiday

  1. I will never forget walking Canyon Road on Christmas eve. The scent of pinyon pine, the carols and the sight of the candles! What a magical evening.

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