Lighting the Way in Taos

Yup, it’s a paper bag with a lit candle. Farolito it’s called in Taos, which often does things differently, and luminaria everywhere else. Saturday night, Ledoux, the oldest street in Taos, was lined with them.

Lighting Ledoux. For me, Christmas is officially here.

Starting in the evening, people strolled the street, which includes galleries, businesses, some homes, and two museums — the Blumenschein and Harwood. And because it gets awfully cold in the high desert after sundown, people bundled up and warmed themselves beside the fire pits. (The folks at Inger Jirby Gallery handed out sticks loaded with marshmallows to toast.)

Musicals play outside the Harwood Museum.

Musicians play outside the Harwood Museum.

The owner of Stella’s, an Italian restaurant, served free cups of meatball soup. The Harwood had hot cider, I believe, although I gave up because of the long line. And, everyone had plenty of cookies.

This year, we missed the short parade, where Taos firefighters drive Maria, their circa 1936 engine, to give Father Christmas a ride down Ledoux.

People sang and played instruments. One musician was setting up his bagpipes as we were leaving.

Afterward we strolled through the Plaza, where the old cottonwoods are lit up in a really big way. The town had its tree-lighting ceremony the night before.

I joke sometimes Christmas in Taos is awfully like Halloween. It certainly is unlike any I have experienced elsewhere.

Next week Bonfires on Bent Street will serve posole soup and have its own fun.

Taos Plaza lit up.

Taos Plaza lit up.

On Christmas Eve at Taos Pueblo, a statue of the Virgin Mary will be carried through the historic village as rifles are fired into the air. High stacks of pitchy wood, some a story high, will be set on fire. We’ve gone several times, and I like it best when we bring someone who’s never been, like a few of our kids last year.

Of course, those are a few of the holiday activities in Taos, but they are my favorite.

It’s joy without the toy.