|Luminarias in Albuquerque|
By Camerafiend, Wikimedia Commons
Pinning down the actual start proved harder than I thought. There are many different ideas about luminarias, including what to call them. I’ve read many accounts and will share the most common with you, but I would love to hear your thoughts below if they differ from what I’ve learned.
One of the first mentions in North America of the lights comes from a journal of Spanish explorer, de Sosa, when he was in what would become New Mexico. He mentioned the lighting of fires along the trail to guide soldiers to the camp. He referred to the fires as luminarias, establishing that as a name for the guiding lights.
Small campfires were used as luminarias until the 18thcentury when Chinese lanterns were introduced to North America. The lanterns were not as convenient to use since they were fragile and costly. When paper bags were invented in 1872 and brought west on the Santa Fe trail, people discovered they could put sand in the bottom of the bag and insert a small candle in the sand. This option was much cheaper than the lanterns and became the popular tradition that continues today.
|Farolitos, Old Mission Church|
By Larry Lamsa, Wikimedia Commons
|Luminaria in Italy on August 1st.|
By Fiore Silvestro Barbato, Wikimedia Commons
No matter the reason the flickering lights inside the paper bags are beautiful along a walkway or road. They are a sign of caring and hope. I do love this tradition.
What about you? Do you use luminarias or farolitos? Do you have a different understanding of the tradition? I would love to hear from you and learn more about this fascinating custom.
Nancy J Farrier is an award-winning author who lives in Southern Arizona in the Sonoran Desert. She loves the Southwest with its interesting historical past. When Nancy isn’t writing, she loves to read, do needlecraft, play with her cats, and spend time with her family. Nancy is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Literary Agency. You can read more about Nancy and her books on her website: nancyjfarrier.com.