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Show us your holiday décor

Posted Dec 9 2015, 12:15 am


One of my favorite holiday decorations are the luminarias in New Mexico. Little paper sacks filled with sand along with a votive candle glowing inside light the driveways, courtyards, and rooftops of our homes to welcome holiday guests.   

If you are visiting the northern part of New Mexico, you might hear luminarias referred to as a farolitos, or “little lanterns” in Spanish. Back in the 1800’s, little bonfires were lit on street corners (as they still are in Santa Fe and in small mountain villages) to guide people going to Christmas Mass at night. These fires are made of square, stacked pinon and juniper wood and fill the air with their fragrant scents as they burn.

We first discovered luminarias when my father, who was in the military, was stationed in New Mexico. Lighting luminarias was a tradition that stuck with our family for all the moves after that. The smiles on our unsuspecting neighbors faces when we’d set the luminarias out in the warm weather in So. California, or the snowy east coast towns was especially fun. (This was back when I was a kid in the stone ages, mind you. I realize luminarias are fairly well known these days :0)

Alas as time passed, and my family decided to settle in New Mexico permanently, technology made it much easier to deal with the high winds we often have here that made tending to the blown-out candles in the little bags (or the bags that caught fire) an all evening job. Now my husband gets out the plastic bags all strung together like Christmas lights, and just plugs them in. They are even on a timer so they turn themselves on and off with no effort from us at all. But luckily, we can still take a short drive and see the lovely longstanding church in the center of the square lit with thousands of little glowing bags . They even light little fires here and there so it smells like Christmas back in the 1800’s.  It makes for a truly glorious sight.

luminariaschurch (3)


What are your favorite holiday decorations?


Check out what the other writers shared about holiday décor…

 Fellow contemporary romance writer –  Priscilla Oliveras | Paranormal romance writer Kay Hudson | Romantic suspense writer  Sharon Wray | Novels with romantic elements  Jean Willett |Historical romance writer  Wendy LaCapra




15 responses to “Show us your holiday décor”

  1. Sharon Wray says:

    How incredibly beautiful, Tamra! I love luminarias but we always lit ours between Christmas and Jan 6th to guide the Wise Men to the baby Jesus. Then on the the Epiphany, we’d light them for 24 hours and end the day giving each other small king gifts (usually an ornament). But our luminaria were small candles in “metal” bags so they wouldn’t melt in the snow or get knocked over by the wind.
    I love hearing about Christmas in New Mexico. I’ve never been there, but I’d love to go one day!

  2. Sharon you are always welcome to visit me here! I have guest rooms with your names on them!

    Very interesting about your tradition of lighting your luminarias on the 25th. But both were used in their most practical sense to guide the way, and they look beautiful doing so. Happy Holidays!!

  3. Wow, Tamra, what a beautiful picture of the church!

    I can almost smell the little fires you mentioned being lit on the street corners.

    If I close my eyes, I can imagine how peaceful and inspiring it would be to join in a Christmas carol sing-along at night in front of the church. WOW!

    Thanks for sharing!!

  4. jean willett says:

    What a lovely photo of the church! I love it. My family did Luminaria every Christmas Eve. I’ve filled many bags with sand and lit candles down our drive. I have bags to do so this year, but I like the idea of the plug-in version. 🙂 This is my last Christmas in my home, so I plan to decorate outside…

    Burning little fires of Juniper smells heavenly. I can imagine Midnight Mass at the church lit up at night. Beautiful.

  5. Kay Hudson says:

    Luminarias are popular in my area, too. The weather is usually mild and paper bags with a little sand in the bottom work well. Here they’re set out on Christmas Eve. If the weather’s nice this year I’ll have to go for a walk to admire my neighbors’ decorations.

  6. Love luminaries, Tammy. Also love that you adopted them and took them with you as you moved around the world. Blessings to you and yours this Christmas! Hugs, Heather

  7. What beautiful pictures! And, what a lovely holiday tradition in this season of lights. Happy Holidays, Tammy!

  8. Louise B says:

    We’ve always done the full traditional paper bags, sand and candles luminarias. This year a week before Thanksgiving, my daughter (native born New Mexican who now lives in Michigan) and her husband were putting up Christmas lights on their new house. He was astonished to learn she didn’t know how to do the lights. She pointed out to him that her family did paper bags of sand with candles as Christmas lights, as he well knew, having visited us at Christmas time.

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