Friday, December 23, 2011

Feliz Navidad

Las Noches de las Luminarias 
A Night of Candles and Magic

For 34 years Phoenicians have treasured a Christmas tradition of putting on warm coats and hats (yes even in Phoenix) and visiting our cherished Desert Botanical Garden (DBG) on one of a selected few evenings in December for the lighting of the luminarias.

For those not lucky enough to live in the Southwest a luminaria (or farolito) is a brown paper bag with a little sand in the bottom into which is nested a tea candle. We put them along foot paths, along fences and rooftops, down the driveway, and on just about any horizontal surface we can find. The candles replaced the earlier Native American tradition of building a bonfire in front of each home or pueblo on Christmas Eve.  Some people cheat and use electrified versions (electrolitos.)

Anyone who has ever visited Santa Fe or Albuquerque's Old Town Plaza at Christmastime will never  forget the smell of piƱon burning and the soft warm glow of these jewels of the night.

For Phoenicians the tradition is well kept in many of our historic neighborhoods with street after street lined with the little sacks. But, the best place to enjoy them is the Desert Botanical Garden. Tickets for the few luminaria's' nights always sell out so plan well in advance. In years past you parked at Phoenix stadium and rode a bus into the garden after dark. Nowadays the festival illuminates over 3000 farolitos 23 nights in December. 4 nights are reserved for garden members. Although the event grows each year, it is still pure magic.

This year there were haunting Native American flautists, a blues band, handbell choristers, a bluegrass ensemble and traditional chorales throughout the garden. Desert bunnies peek from behind clumps of prickly pears. Dinner is available along with the usual warm holiday beverages.

Cacti are Specially Illuminated 
Throughout The Garden 

Chihuly's Giant Glass 
Glows For Visitors Approaching The Garden
DesertBells Perform

Since the "Big Bugs" that David Rogers has created from found wood are presently on display in the garden, they have also been colorfully illuminated for Luminaria nights.

The Giant Driftwood "Big Bugs" Twinkle

Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas everywhere you go.....even here in the Sonoran Desert!

Best Wishes from Roadboy!

Roadboy's Travels © 2011