Sunday, December 21, 2008


I told you recently about tumbleweed Christmas trees. Another tradition in the Southwest is luminaria. The idea behind luminaria is that the lights will guide the spirit of the Christ child to your home. Luminaria are made from paper bags with sand in the bottom to hold them down. They are lit from within by a candle held in place by the sand. On Christmas Eve the luminaria are arranged in rows, lining the driveway and walkways around your home. Over the years they have become more elaborate, with cut out designs, and you can even buy electric ones.

In the picture above the homeowners lined the walkway, the front wall and the flat roof-line of the home. (In the Southwest it's not uncommon to see the roof-line lit up on adobe buildings). Weather permitting, you can create this type of display anywhere in the country, though I wouldn't recommend most roof tops. Of course you need to place the candles carefully in the center of the bag of sand and keep an eye on them so they don't cause a fire. Inexpensive glass votive holders are a good way to reduce the risk of fire. Note that the top of the bag is rolled down a time or two to create a sturdy opening.

Should you find yourself in Phoenix, Albuquerque, San Antonio or another Southwest location on Christmas eve, be sure to include an evening tour of their local gardens, parks and historic areas to take in this beautiful tradition.


No Cool Story said...

I wanted to have luminarias this year, they look so pretty.
Unfortunately I didn't get to that :(
Next year!

RisibleGirl said...

My parents have been doing this for years, even before they moved to Arizona. It's really lovely.

AnnieOfBlueGables said...

There is a round house here in town with a flat roof. She makes her own version of luminaria. She puts a twinkle light into the top of a gallon milk jug half filled with water to hold it down. They glow different colors all around the top of her round house. I love it.