I was unable to attend this event this year due to still being under the weather. But it is such a beautiful and uniquely New Mexican celebration that I wanted to re-publish this post from last year. I hope you enjoy it.
Photo note: While trying to capture the essence of this night without a flash, many of the images ended up being blurry. I still want to share them with you, though, in an effort to show you how beautiful it was to be there.
A friend and I went to Taos the other night to take in The Lighting of Ledoux. Ledoux Street is one of the older areas of Taos, dotted with museums, galleries and artist’s studios, all open for the event.
My friend, Kim, said it well, standing at the head of the street and gazing in. “This reminds me of an earlier, simpler time. Imagine this at the turn of the century, what it must have looked like. It’s why D.H. Lawrence came and fell in love with the place.” Indeed.
On this night the street was lined with farolitos (paper bags with small candles anchored in sand) and the frigid air was filled with the smoke of luminarias (bonfires of pinon pine), mixing beautifully with the sound of carolers. Children roasted marshmallows on sticks over the fires and strangers greeted each other.
Apparently, the luminarias and the farolitos date back to pre-Christian Spain.
Dory Hurlburt of The Taos News says that according to Pedro Ribera Ortega’s book, Christmas in Old Santa Fe, “Pagan Spaniards lit huge bonfires on hills and mountaintops to celebrate the feasts of ancient gods and goddesses. When St. James the Greater brought Christianity to Spain, the pagan bonfires were baptized to serve the cause of the new religion…
“Farolitos had their origin in the Las Islas Filipinas (the Philippines), according to Ortega. Cultural cross-pollination between the Spanish Philippines and China led the Spanish to adopt the Chinese custom of festive lanterns, which traveled to Mexico via the port of Acapulco and then northward.”
History aside, these plain, beautiful expressions, available to all of us for very little cost, speak of simpler times. So I offer them to you as my gift, with wishes for a simple Christmas, wrapped in peace.
Love to you all,