What Is Luminaria?

Where did Luminaria come from?

Have you ever driven through a neighborhood on Christmas Eve to see the streets and driveways lit up by beautiful soft glowing candles? If so, these are called Luminaria (small candles placed in bags of various colors and weighed down by sand). The tradition of Luminaria goes back more than 300 years when Spanish merchants, inspired by Chinese lanterns, designed Luminaria or farolitas and made them a tradition in New Spain. To this day, Luminaria displays decorate streets, parks and households in the state of New Mexico, especially in the cities of Albuquerque and Sante Fe.

Luminaria or “festival light” also refers to the small bonfires which are lit, one per night during the nine days of Las Posadas, which ends on Christmas Eve. Observed mainly in Mexico and Guatemala, the 16th century festival of Las posadas celebrates the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem. In the reenactment, people process, guided by each night’s bonfire, to pray at a Nativity scene.

Today the tradition of Luminaria as a “little lantern” (the literal meaning of farolita) has spread gradually to other communities nationwide and has also been adopted by groups like the Boy Scouts of America, Relay for Life and at weddings. Bestluminariacandles.com is here to help you bring this beautiful and historic tradition to your town or event.

How to fundraise with Luminaria

Luminaria are sold in kits which include:

  • Candles (sold in packages of 200 – we do offer quantity pricing (call for details)
  • Bags (sold in brown, white or various colors)
  • Sand (we do not provide sand but it can be purchased at any local hardware store)

Some groups choose to put an advertisement in a local newspaper, newsletter or church bulletin with an order form to be sent to a specific person organizing the event with a specific day for the ordered to pick up the kits or a delivery day.

Other groups choose to advertise in advance and have one day where interested parties can pick up the candles (really the choice is up to the group as to what works best).