Luminaria / Farolitos
Christmas Eve tradition practiced across New Mexico, wherein candles are placed in paper bags (weighted with sand) and used to outline walkways, buildings, roofs, streets, and loved ones' graves. The tradition is that the lights lead the Christ Child to one's home. Streets, neighborhoods, and business districts may work together to present contiguous displays, and such areas are popular with visitors on Christmas Eve. Electric strands and plastic enclosures are sometimes used in place of the candles and paper bags, on large buildings and sometimes homes, but the flickering warm candlelight is a noted feature of the displays. There is an ongoing debate over nomenclature: generally speaking, northern New Mexicans prefer the term farolitos, "little lanterns", for the sack lights, whereas southern New Mexicans usually reserve that term for the small bonfires that sometimes line seasonal processions. Luminaria are spreading to other parts of the U.S. as a Christmas decoration.