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"You can hold your breath until you're blue in the face, but they'll go on doing it."--Marcus Aurelius
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Luminarias

During my sojourn in Albuquerque, it has been my pleasure to live in the UNM area in the Silver Hill District.  One of the perks is enjoying the entire street lit up on Christmas Eve by hundreds (if not thousands) of luminarias.  The Neighborhood Association is responsible for the planning and work that goes into creating this Yule display.  This view is looking east on Silver Ave on Christmas Eve, 2011.  Below is the link to the Silver Hill Neighborhood Association website:

 

http://www.silverhillabq.org/

 
 

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Luminarias (also called farolitos) are brown paper bags filled with sand and a lit candle.  Today, electric luminaria decorations are commonly used on the tops and outlines of buildings, but the ones used in my neighborhood are the old-fashioned, real thing.

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In this picture from Christmas Eve 2008, one of the members of the Silver Hill Neighborhood Association is lighting the luminarias. 

 

The luminarias line the street for a number of blocks.  In the sections that are not divided by a median (like the one in this photo), the lanterns are placed along the sidewalks on each side of the street.  Some of the yards of the homes are also lined with them.

 

Luminarias allegedly originated with Spanish merchants, who were impressed with the paper lanterns they saw in Chinese cultures.  Old Town in Albuquerque and Santa Fe also have  large luminaria displays during Christmas time.

 

What to call the lanterns is disputed in New Mexico:  It's said that  the paper lanterns are called farolitos in Santa Fe and northern New Mexico, while in other locales, the favored term is luminarias.  "Farolito" means "little lantern" while "luminaria" means "festival light." 

 
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