Good evening, and Merry Christmas from the Berry family to yours!! We are thrilled you’ve taken time to come and enjoy this beautiful tradition from days gone by, but is still a much anticipated and loved tradition we continue after my parents brought up to Wyoming from New Mexico over 30 years ago!!
We are blessed to now be teaching our boys the process and meaning behind preparing these “little candles in sacks,” and love hearing from all of YOU, who have come to love seeing them each Christmas Eve!
Feel free to make several slow passes and let the simple beauty of these glowing bags bring peace to all who view it. Merry Christmas from our family to yours…..or, as they say in New Mexico, “Feliz Navidad!”
The Origination of the Luminary, Luminaria,
Farolitas or Farolitos
Here is a little history behind this beautiful tradition:
The first luminaries in North America were bonfires of crisscrossed pinon boughs arranged in 3-foot high squares. Later luminaries were small paper lanterns, which were made when colored paper was brought to this continent from the Orient. Instead of hanging these delicate lanterns from trees or on wires, they were placed on the ground, on rooftops and along pathways. Tradition has it that luminaria lit the way for Mary and Joseph in their search for lodging in Bethlehem.
Other writers place the tradition back even earlier, linking it to the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah, when people mark the miracle of the container of oil that was only meant to last one day but lasted eight.
Luminarias are also linked through history to the ancient tradition of communicating, warning and celebrating through linked bonfires.
The tradition of luminarias comes from Mexico. It has been celebrated for many years in New Mexico before spreading to communities throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. The Pueblo Indians in New Mexico have long lit small fires outside their homes to light their way to church on Christmas Eve.
They learned the custom from Spanish settlers who introduced farolitos, or little lanterns, in the sixteenth century. The Spanish settlers burned small bonfires along the roads and in the churchyards to commemorate Christ’s birth.
By the 19th century, American settlers brought beautiful Chinese lanterns to hang from their doorways instead of building bonfires. But the lanterns were too expensive for many people so they began to make small lanterns out of paper sacks to save money.
The timing of the Fiesta de Las Luminaries, or the lighting of the way for the Holy Family, varies from community to community. Some concentrate on Christmas Eve, others enjoy their displays throughout December.
In Europe, many people postpone their use of luminaries until just before January 6, the Festival of the Three Kings. Their luminaries light the wise men as they bring gifts to the Christ Child. In many European countries, Three Kings is the part of the festival in which gifts are given and feasting takes place.
Article credit from FLIC Luminaries: Patricia Miller, Research Journalist