Some individuals prefer a more understated look marked by a Christmas tree in their front windows, while others go all-out and cover their homes in colorful lights. Luminarias is one of the lesser known ways to decorate for the holiday season, but it can be awe-inspiring and even help to bring communities together during this special time of year.
What is luminarias?
A luminaria is a Christmas lantern that consists of a votive candle placed inside a small paper bag. The bag is weighted with sand. Communities or neighborhoods that decorate with luminarias typically place the luminarias at the end of their driveways or along sidewalks on a predetermined night, such as Christmas Eve. When all the candles have been lit, the result is an awe-inspiring and uniform display.
How long has the tradition of luminarias been around?
According to LumaBase®, a manufacturer of decorative luminarias, the tradition of luminarias dates back to 16th century Spain. At that time, small bonfires known as “luminarias” were lit along roads to help people travel safely to Midnight Mass on the final night of Las Posadas, a traditional celebration in many countries with significant Hispanic populations that runs from December 16 through December 24. The celebration is
meant to serve as a remembrance of the story of Mary and Joseph seeking lodging in Bethlehem prior to the birth
of Jesus Christ.
Where is luminarias practiced today?
In North America, luminarias remains a tradition in Mexico and the southwestern United States, though FLIC Luminaries© indicates it is practiced in communities throughout the U.S. and Canada. Modern lights have evolved so individuals interested in introducing the tradition of luminarias in their communities need
not light traditional candles if they’re concerned about safety. Battery-powered, electric, and solar options are available as alternatives to candles lit
by a flame.
The tradition of luminarias can bring communities together in celebration of the holiday season.
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