Friday, December 24, 2010
So far as I'm concerned, this brown paper bag, filled with soil, and then with a tea light placed inside it and lit, is a farolito (a little lantern, that is - going back to the Latin faro, or lighthouse ...). A luminaria is a little bonfire at a street corner - traditionally there to guide people to midnight mass on Christmas eve. That being said, my nomenclature is strictly a Northern New Mexican one, because these lanterns tend to be called luminarias elsewhere - even down in Albuquerque, let alone further south in NM, let alone in such foreign parts as California. I'm also, for that matter, a purist who thinks that they should, indeed, be made from paper bags and real flames - not the beige plastic electric kind, pretty though, I confess, they can look.
This farolito was on a wall on Canyon Road, which is the traditional Santa Fe Christmas Eve walk (there were some luminarias thrown in, too, and also the wonderful flying farolitos, which remind me of some rather dangerous experiments involving candles and paper that the Observer published around 1959 or 60: these ones are built from birthday candles inserted on styrofoam crosses, which are then lit - the paper bag surrounding them, or rather the air it contains, heats up - and then the ff is released to soar above the Canyon Road trees, and then catch fire, slowly, like a very amateur firework. Canyon Road was as full as ever (though not quite as cold as the last time that we were there) this evening, with clusters of people bursting into "O Come, All Ye Faithful," and others wearing reindeer antlers or luminous glowing spikes in the hair, or pushing baby carriages, or leading or carrying their dogs (some, too, with reindeer antlers). And even if crowded, it was extraordinary pretty, and completely magically Santa Fe at its best.