Compiled by Janet Webb, March 14, 2016 (re-posted with edits April 13, 2017)
Throughout Taos and the region, Easter traditions include sacred Catholic Holy Week rituals as well as secular rites of spring. It’s hard to pin down exact times and places for some of these ceremonies because they are sacred—private and personal. Here are links to stories about past Easters here in Taos, and info on a few egg hunts for the kids.
This is the largest Holy Week pilgrimage in New Mexico. It feels like a centuries-old tradition but apparently it only began after World War II. If you are driving the highways anywhere from Los Alamos to Espanola, Mora to Taos, watch for lines of the faithful walking to Chimayo. Here is what the santuario says about this tradition: on what’s known as “the high road to Taos.”
“At the end of the war, only half of the 1,800 New Mexico National Guardsmen were still alive; New Mexico soldiers having suffered the highest mortality rate of any state. Yet, those who returned talked about how they attributed their survival to their faith and to the intercession of Santo Niño de Atocha.
“By the late 1940s, some of the surviving soldiers and their families, numbering about 2,000 people, began what has become the annual Easter pilgrimage to Chimayo as a means of expressing their profound gratitude to Santo Niño. Because the Santo Niño Chapel was a private chapel (until 1992, when it was acquired by the Archdiocese of Santa Fe) a statue of Santo Niño was placed in a side room in the chapel of nearby El Santuario de Chimayo. Thus, El Santuario, established because of the miracle associated with Nuestro Señor de Esquipulas (Our Lord of Esquipulas), became, somewhat inadvertently, identified with Santo Niño de Atocha.
“Today the Easter pilgrimage is taken by as many as 40,000 people annually. By the efforts of the Holy Family and the Medina family, Santo Niño chapel is completely restored. Inside a small room adjoining the main chapel is a wooden statue of Santo Niño made by the famous santero, Felix Lopez. Filling shelves resting against the adobe walls are pairs of children’s shoes left by the faithful, some with names and dates, some with notes of entreaty or thanks. They are intended, as such offerings have been for over one thousand years, for the Holy Child so that he may have clean shoes as he travels on his journey to provide comfort to those in need.”
Holy Week in Northern New Mexico
A writer/photographer from Reuters described Holy Week in Taos and surrounding communities from a visitors standpoint. Read more.
Historic churches of northern New Mexico:
Taos County Lodgers Association recently published a 32-page guide to visiting 24 historic adobe churches around Taos. View and print.(1.9MB pdf)
San Francisco de Asis Church in Ranchos is called “the most painted and photographed church in America.” It is a very special place to take mass at one of many services over the weekend. The pilgrimage, a six-mile walk that includes the chapel in Talpa, was documented a few years ago by a local historian, and co-owner of Two Graces Gallery located on Ranchos Plaza a few feet from the church. To begin with, Robert Cafazzo advises, “Whether you follow a Religious Faith or not, you should be able and willing to attend this religious event with a bit of respectful humility. Please leave your cameras behind and turn your phone off, do not be tempted to use either.” Read on!
Easter Sunrise Services at Rio Grande Gorge Bridge
This casual but intimate ceremony at the bridge is different every year but it’s always at dawn. Taos News TEMPO editor captured it on video a few years ago. It was filmed on Sunday April 5, 2015 at the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge near Taos, New Mexico USA. Officiating is Pastor Stephen Wiard of El Pueblito Church in El Prado. Video was shot and edited by Rick Romancito of The Taos News.
Easter Sunrise Service at Santa Cruz Lake
Near Chimayo, 30 miles north of Santa Fe, Santa Cruz Lake Recreation Area (managed by the BLM) is another site of Easter services — and egg hunts for the children. Valley Methodist Church officiates at the service so be sure you check there for details about the 2016 plans.
Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs
There’s nothing in northern New Mexico more renewing, rewarding, inspirational than a long soak in the hot mineral waters of Ojo. The resort offers a “Ojo Spring Spring Awakening package” for couples that is a top-of-the-line choice, especially on Easter weekend.
Friday April 14, 2017, 9:00am – 12:00pm
Easter EGGStravaganza at Sycamore Park Community Center
Staff is busy filling eggs for the annual community Easter egg hunt! Free.
1051 Sycamore Street Farmington, NM, 505-566-2480
This year’s Easter EGGstravaganza fun and activities will include music, food vendors and games from 9:00 a.m. to noon! Come see the Easter Bunny, and bring your camera to get your pictures taken in one of the photo booths. Egg hunt starts at 10:00am sharp!