Monday, January 10, 2011

Christmas Eve in Mesilla

Here we are, well into January, and I haven't told you about our Christmas experiences yet.  I will spend a bit of time looking back during the coming week.

We finally got to visit the Mesilla Plaza on Christmas Eve, something I have always wanted to do. It was magical in every way. The night was cold and fragrant with the smell of luminarias and fireplace fires. If you have never smelled a Southwest fireplace fire, you have a treat ahead of you, because there is absolutely nothing like the fragrance of burning juniper and piñon on a frosty night.

Let's see, we have covered one sense--that of smell, which is always important in the desert Southwest. For sounds, we had the tolling bells of San Albino, the laughter of children, singing carolers, and a brass band. For sights, there were strolling families, lights strung about, Christmas decorations, and, of course, the thousands of authentic luminarias--each made of a candle inserted in sand inside a brown paper bag (assembled by the high school band for an annual fund raiser).

Here is what it looked like, with the church of San Albino lit up in the background.

We followed a little side trail of luminarias and found that it led into a tiny alleyway between old adobe walls. Turning a corner, we saw this lovely sight in the darkness--a little outside altar in honor of la Virgen de Guadalupe, whose procession we had seen just a couple of weeks before. I took the first shot without a flash, so you could see it just as we did.

To show you the scene in greater detail, I tried a shot with the flash. Just bear in mind that the little grotto was much darker, and was actually lit only by the flickering candles and luminarias.

We had another unexpected meeting before we left Mesilla to go home, but I will tell you about that tomorrow.  In the meantime, I leave you with this image of one of the stained glass windows of San Albino. If you have a moment, you can go to the parish history page and click on the tab entitled "Crowd leaving 1908 dedication of the new San Albino Church" to see a lovely historical photograph of the church, its parishioners, and the plaza over a hundred years ago. 


Martha Z said...

The Southwest tradition of La Posada and the Luminarias is very appealing. I had wanted to go to Olvera Street in LA to see it but never did.

Deb said...

Beautiful stained glass!

This sounds like such a wonderful way to spend Christmas eve...interesting post!

Kate said...

Christmas in the Southwest is a real visual treat. We use luminarias on our lawn and I think we're the only one in the neighborhood that does. The stained glass window is surprisingly contemporary in design. The anchor on the top means...? I've had a good time surfing your recipe blog and need to go back with pencil and paper in hand!

clairz said...

Kate, I wondered about that anchor, too. A funny thing to see in the middle of the desert. I guess I've got some research ahead of me. I'll report back.

Randy said...

I really want to go explore this part of the state. Wonderful post!

Quiet Paths said...

What a beautiful post. I would have loved to have seen this and participated. I would be out photographing all those wonderful buildings every day and not getting anything done! A little late: but Happy New Year to you.