On the Luminarias vs Farolitos Issue

By Janet Webb | December 14, 2013 |

A few days ago, we at Webb Design sent out an eNewsletter to all the subscribers of TaosWebb’s northern New Mexico news feed and also posted it on our Facebook page. The article was titled” LUMINARIA OR FAROLITO?*“ with a definition of what we think these two holiday thingies are, specifically:

*These are the northern New Mexico definitions,
often reversed in other areas of the state:

A small paper lantern (commonly a candle
set in sand inside a paper bag) placed in rows
to create holiday displays.

A vigil bonfire created from a stack of
piñon wood. A series of farolitos is often
used to illuminate a trail during a holiday ritual.

We’ve been bombarded with other opinions!

Terry Thompson, photographer of both Farolitos and Luminarias (see below) said this:
From the for what it’s worth department:  according to Simon and Schuster’s English/Spanish International Dictionary, “farol” means “1. lamp, light; street-lamp; lantern.”   Thus farolito means a small one of those.  This is our vote ;>) TT

And another friend quoted the state magazine:
From NM Mag December 2012
Northern New Mexico residents call the state’s iconic holiday decorations farolitos, while southerners call them luminarias. But all agree that these simple, sand-weighted paper bags, each containing a lit votive candle, light the holidays with warmth and beauty.

If you feel like commenting please do it on FB!

Going to “Bonfires on Bent Street” right now (it’s Saturday 12/14). They will I’m sure have both Farolitos and Luminarias.

Here’s a link to TaosWebb’s list of Taos and northern NM holiday events.

Here are the two pictures we used in that eNewsletter. Farolitos at Taos Pueblo by Gus Foster. He’s made a poster of this, available from his site and at the Harwood Museum. The other photo is the Luminaria Festival at San Juan College in Farmington. Luminarias!



Here are two pictures by Terry Thompson, used with his permission, of Lighting Ledoux (Farolitos and Luminarias) and Christmas Eve at Taos Pueblo (I say Farolitos; he says Luminarias) take an few years back when it was still OK to bring your camera to the ceremony.




And here’s a photo David Mapes, David Anthony Fine Art (one of Taos’s best galleries) took last weekend at Lighting Ledoux. Asked the difference he says,”I don’t know what to say about Farolito or Luminaria, to me they are all bagolitos.”


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