Farolitos of Christmas

There are more stories and songs about candles than there ever will be about a porch light.


Northern New Mexico, home of the Lower Farm is a place of ritual with a distinctive blend of Western, Indian and Spanish culture that comes alive in the holiday season. On the crooked streets of old Santa Fe, along Acequia Madre and the Canyon Road the lights are dimmed and the street lights out for Christmas Eve. Farolitos light the way and through arched doorways are courtyards awash in the light of small fires.

During Christmas, rooftops and walls  are lined with little paper lanterns. It is said that farolitos mark the pathway to these adobe homes so that the Christ Child might find his way. Farolitos also serve to guide the way for  pilgrims in the village processions as they reenact Las Posadas, the story of Joseph and Mary. Good neighbors build small fires called luminarios in front of their historic homes. They invite  evening strollers to stop and warm themselves, have a cup of mulled cider or hot chocolate and a bischochitto. Carolers repay the kindness with song and move on following the path of farolitos along the ancient streets.

Christmas lights all shiny and bright, draped through branches of trees and lit at night, hung from every home and hall, bring good cheer to one and all. During this darkest coldest time of year the flickering flame of farolitos connects the soul to a primitive past. A candle to light the way, a fire to drive off the cold, traditions to remind us who we are.

New Mexico is referred to as the Land of Enchantment and every season the beauty of the landscape is transformed. To view wonderful photos of a southwest Christmas you can Google > pictures of Santa Fe farolitos <. To discover more about the City Different and the holiday season Google > Santa Fe Christmas <.

Ready to make your own farolitos ? It’s easy. You will need an appropriate number of votive or tea candles, same number of paper bags and a small amount of sand. This can be an activity that the whole family can participate in and enjoy.

First open the paper bag and fluff it out full. Fold the top edge over twice – about 2 or 3 inches. This will give the bag a little extra rigidity.


Next scoop a couple cups of sand into the bottom of the bag for a level base 2 or 3 inches deep. This will keep the bag weighted down if there is any breeze and keeps the candle in a safe position


Finally light the votive candle and  place it in the center of the bag away from the sides. The candle will burn safely out of the wind and last several hours extinguishing itself in the sand. (always be careful with fire )


I’ve attached a charming video that shows one family setting out farolitos for New Years. Maybe this is a tradition that you might try to incorporate into your holiday season. Well wishes to all of you this Christmas and New Year. Feliz Navidad.

About earthstonestation

promoting environmental education, protecting all species and preserving the wild places with art, music and storytelling.
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7 Responses to Farolitos of Christmas

  1. Pingback: The versatility of blogging | The Eco and the Id

  2. I so loved the video. The farolitos really are amazing. Thank you for the instructions too.

  3. zaisprecis says:


    Loved the pics and video. Reminds me of my years in NM. Right by Silver City. I will have to heed my husband this year and make the luminarias.

  4. I have always wanted to do that, it looks so beautiful! I think I should give it a shot! Thanks for posting and reminding me.

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