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Christmas in Old Santa Fe

Farolitos and Luminarias, Christmas Eve, Santa Fe, New Mexico Photograph ©Craig Varjabedian

La Capilla de San Ysidro/Lopez Chapel, Christmas Eve, Santa Fe, New Mexico 1997 Photograph by © Craig Varjabedian

No other custom so vividly captures the mood of Santa Fe at Christmas as the luminarias and farolitos that can be seen all over town during the holidays and particularly on Christmas eve. They seem to set a mood of peace and quiet and inspire reverence and simplicity. There is nothing elaborate about the farolito, a simple burning candle in a paper sac weighed down with a few handfuls of sand. Yet not only are they beautiful to look at on a walk up Canyon Road on a brisk snowy Christmas eve, many people here believe that farolitos announce the arrival of the Christ child to our northern New Mexico town. It is indeed the most wonderful time of the year.

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CRAIG VARJABEDIAN is an award-winning photographer who explores the back roads of the American West, making pictures of the unique and quintessential. He shares awe-inspiring stories of the land and the people who live on it . . . one photograph at a time.