Luminaries An Albuquerque NM Christmas Tradition

Real Estate Broker Owner with Albuquerque Homes Realty *

Luminaries An Albuquerque NM Christmas Tradition

Luminarias in Snow Albuquerque

Luminaria is Spanish for Lamp.

This wonderful New Mexico tradition is Christian in nature with the idea that the small lamps or Luminaries would light the way for Mary and Joseph as they made their way to the stable and the birth of Christ.  Originally the lamps were placed only on Christmas Eve but you will most often see the Luminaries through the holiday season.

The Luminaries are simply a votive candle set inside a brown paper bag weighted with sand and placed in a row with others along a walkway, driveway, or rooftop as a holiday decoration.  The nightly job of lighting and maintaining the candles is all part of the experience, windy nights can play havoc as paper bags go up in flames.  For that reason the modern versions are often electric or battery powered.

Old Town Albuquerque stays with tradition and lights the luminaries only on Christmas Eve and yes they are the real deal. The entire square’s walking paths, streets, Gazebo and the famous San Felipe de Neri church all adorn these magical lamps.  This is a must see event if your in Albuquerque during Christmas

The Albuquerque and Rio Rancho Boy Scouts sell the candle and sand bag Luminaries.  Place your order early and don't be left out in the dark!

While you’re out enjoying the Christmas lights or the subtle glow of Albuquerque, Rio Rancho’s and surrounding NM area Luminaries.  You may just spot a home for sale you’d like to view.  Contact me,John McCormack I am able to show you any home listed for sale.

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John McCormack    Owner/Managing Broker,  e-PRO

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Joni Staples
Your Huntsville / Lake Livingston Area REALTOR®
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services - Anderson Properties

My best friends mom was into these when we were around 16. They were the bags with the rubber bands and a BIG PAIN IN THE REAR to put out! Glad that didn't last long. Now days they re much better!! LOL!

December 07, 2011 12:11 AM
John McCormack
Albuquerque Homes Realty *

Hi Laura,  You know these Albuquerque Lumanarias really are romantic, I have actually seen them on summer evenings used as low light for an outdoor diner party.  Simple and subtle!

Hi Debbie, It really is pretty, one of those things you really need to personally see! Come visit!

Hi Marilyn,  Indeed a good climate! Normally not too much snow or wind this time of year.  But when its bitter being the Lantern tender is a frosty job!

Hello Maureen,  These Albuqurque Lumanaries do not fair well in the rain or wet.  You have seen a soggy paper bag before right?  That is one of the jobs of the "Lantern Keeper" to replace wet bags and melted candles, or bags that caught on fire.

Hi Kathy,  You know I think the first time you see them is the most intriguing for sure.  I have witnessed people getting out of the car to peak into the bag to see if indeed it is what they think it is!  Glad you got to experience them early and during the Christmas holiday!

Hi Ronald,  The first time I was exposed to these was in Wyoming as a kid, my folks were from NM so they new the tradition, however in WY it was unknown.  We actually made our own candles and even had to use pipe cleaners for some of them because we had purchased all the wicking material in the state I think..Anyway it was a huge hit and the cars would line up for blocks to see the mystery decorations at the McCormack home.  I think they all thought we were all a bit loco!   Here is a Photo of that Display.  This is over 40 years ago!

Luminaries in Casper Wyoming at 730 Clarendon McCormack Home

December 07, 2011 07:47 PM
John McCormack
Albuquerque Homes Realty *

Hi Charita,  The winds can certainly be an issue, but when it is just too windy the candles don't get lit.  The sand keeps thing weighted but the bag lying over the flame can be problematic for sure.

Hi Marco,  Well the tradition was actually small bonfires, not bags obviously..LOL  I really think this is more a Nwe Mexico tradition than an Old Mexico tradition.  The Spanish name for the luminaries is Faralitos.

Hey BLiz, Old town is Magical at Christmas, the ambiance is just hard to describe, very peaceful, very alluring and quite satisfying. 

Larry and Sheila,  Have to laugh cause that was exactly my response to Bill and Liz above.  Indeed Magical!

Hi Keith,  Candles have dangers no doubt indoors and out.  Caution is king! Stay safe through the Holidays!

Hi Toni,  It is pretty indeed.  Many neighborhoods work together to put out Luminaries the city even schedules but tours through those neighborhoods particularly in the Country Club addition and the homes on Rio Grande.

Hi Terri,  Happy to share the History, that is the best part!  A lighted pathway to the place of Christs birth!



December 07, 2011 08:23 PM
John McCormack
Albuquerque Homes Realty *

Hi Will,  The Boy Scouts no where and when to be.  They know where the action is at!

Hi Patricia, I now wish I had utilized a better photo this just not seem to illustrate the ambiance well. I did add the photo above but this was not taken in NM.  The fire risk really is nominal but they must be monitored especially when sitting on someones roof top!

Belinda..NO do NOT put these on your stairway..Buy a flashlight or flip the switch..LOL  There is nothing sprayed on the bags, a small votive candle burns quite nicely in the comfort of the surrounding brown bag.  Give it a whirl but have a fire extinguisher ready, cause your trouble..ROFL

Hi Ron and Alexandra,  The affect of these when utilized on the grounds of a Spanish hacienda or expansive grounds is phenomenal. That is when they have the greatest impact and allure!

Will, I agree tradition is what makes all the difference.  The history and the meanings bring it all together!

Josh,  Glad you enjoyed!

Vickie,  Old Town is THE place to be for this tradition! Its in a square so well protected even should the breeze pick up.  I hope to capture video to share this year!

Hi Brad,  Indeed the traditions has traveled far.  I knew it was a never seen event in Wy about 40 yrs ago as described in my earlier response with photo. Glad to see it is taking hold, even in Illinois!

Hello Tammy,  I know I have been bad about my response, but I'm trying to catch up!  The photo is of Luminaries in the snow, that makes them even prettier!  There are many neighborhoods that focus heavily on pulling this off each year, it brought so much traffic the city had to set up bus tours.

Hi Peggy,  Thank you for the nice compliments, I always appreciate someone observing the layout and sharing their thoughts.  Glad you could enjoy and share!

LOL Cathy,  I know we have guest come over wanting to boil up some chili, those things need to be eaten not hung out on a tree.  Hey some of us are just a bit loco, ehh?

Hi Pacita,  You know this really is the kind of thing that brings neighbors together, a common goal or function that attracts interests and gives it definition.  This may just be the ticket!  Make it happen Girl!

Hello Dee Dee,  So glad you get to enjoy the tradition and the simple beauty of these little lamps. 

Hi Marge,  That has to be gorgeous indeed!  Long live the Luminaries!

Hello Joni,  Ok, what are the rubber bands for?  I have never heard or seen that?  I need a visual..Help?


December 07, 2011 08:51 PM
Tammy Emineth
Content Marketer, SEO Teacher, Website Fixer
Personal SEO - Website SEO and Real Estate Marketing

Thanks for the response! I love the pics in the snow and finally figured that out. HA! They look awesome! And your follow up pic is just as beautiful1

December 13, 2011 10:28 PM
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John McCormack is the Owner/Broker-Realtor® at Albuquerque Homes Realty. Serving Albuquerque and Rio Rancho home buyers and sellers since 2000.