Santa Fe Faralitos: A Christmas Tradition


This year, we found ourselves in Santa Fe, NM for Christmas, along with my family and relatives. While there were many typical Christmas highlights (learning the card-slapping game of Squeek, working on skiing with Kendall, etc.), a particularly exciting thing about Christmas in Santa Fe is the city’s tradition with Farolitos (known elsewhere as Luminarias). All over the city, but especially in the downtown and Canyon Road area, sidewalks and buildings are lined with the softly glowing brown bags on Christmas Eve. After nightfall, a huge chunk of the city gathers to walk the streets of downtown and Canyon Road to enjoy the lights together amongst friends and family, warm drinks, and many bonfires arranged down the streets. Even with the snow-less buildings and trees and temperatures in the teens, this years walk was a great one as always.

Our Christmas Eve started out at our house, where we set up Farolitos to accompany our normal christmas lights. It has become a tradition at our house for Christmas to set up a Farolito assembly lines  – some of us prefer to affectionately refer to the lights as “bagolitos”. Sandbox sand is scooped into the the lunch sacks, and candles are inserted as the lights are spread along the sidewalk. As night falls, we head in for a Christmas eve dinner – and then its off to the Canyon Road display.

Farolitos on Canyon Road

Farolitos on Canyon Road

The beauty of the display is something that is quite hard for photography to capture, as its a very soft light. It’s different to the typical electric light displays, as the subtle pulsing of the candle light glows off the adobe buildings in a very soothing way. The laughter of people gathered around crackling bonfires made on the streets for people to warm at and carolers and other musicians dispersed along the walk complete this peaceful feeling. As touristy as Santa Fe can be, this is Christmas gathering is the read-deal.


Farolitos at the Carlson House

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