The Christmas Eve lights stretched along Santa Fe’s Canyon Road is something Joseph Montoya remembers dating back to his childhood. He remembers stories his mother used to tell of strolling along the boulevard in her days of youth.
“It’s continuing a tradition that’s been ongoing for several hundred years,” said Montoya, community development director for Santa Fe County. “It’s a living reminder of the history. The farolitos or luminarias are trying to light the way for little baby Jesus. To provide a path.”
Canyon Road is shut down for the evening to prevent cars from impeding on those enjoying the sights and sounds of the festivities.
“What’s nice about this (is), there are no cars,” Montoya said. “It’s a little more somber and a little more quieting. It provides a nice stage to reflect on the year and give thanks. For me, especially historically, it’s become a little more commercialized.”
In the old days, he said, folks would attend midnight Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, then start their walk, reconnecting with old friends.
“It’s grown through the years,” Montoya said. “It used to be a smaller event and church event and much more sober, but now it’s a much more international event. People come to enjoy the lights from all over the world.”
So now it is not so much about greeting old friends as it about making new ones, he said, which has a certain appeal, as well.
“People open up their homes, serve bizcochitos and eggnogs and hot teas,” Montoya said. “It’s a wonderful community event. You get to check in with folks that you haven’t seen in a very long time. And get to meet a lot of new folks. It’s a great place to bring people together, to give thanks and enjoy goodwill and enjoy the aspect, especially, of the next day.”
The holiday season is getting grand treatment at Santa Fe’s Bishop’s Lodge, with both guests and others welcomed for the events, said Peter Lovato, the resort’s caterer.
From readings from sacred texts at Archbishop Lamy’s Chapel, to classes on tin work, holiday card making, tamale making, drinking cocoa the way it was done centuries ago, the resort is alive with festive merrymaking, Lovato said.
Some 2,600 farolitos line the various pathways and 256 metal trees on site have been lit, he said.
Adding to the appeal, on Dec. 23, carolers will be gliding through the grounds dressed in Victorian garb singing holiday classics.
At Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado, special menus are on tap for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, said resort spokeswoman Michelle Duncan.
Additionally, the resort’s spa is offering holiday-inspired treatments, she said, including a warm bourbon-brown sugar body scrub treatment.
“It’s always nice in terms of being very seasonal,” Duncan said. “We’ve created Yuletide Yoga, which is series of yoga classes that are festive and built around the season and giving, and taking some time out for yourself because these days, self-care is very important.”
Christmas Day, Santa will be dropping by, posing for selfies for youngsters.
For a holiday event unlike any other, the Santa Fe Opera, the Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra and the Lensic Performing Arts Center have teamed up for a unique, one-night-only affair on Christmas Eve.
Conductor Guillermo Figueroa guides four recent Santa Fe Opera apprentice singers – soprano Marlen Nahhas, mezzo-soprano Ana Mora, tenor Duke Kim and baritone Darren Drone – through a program of arias, duets, ensembles and overtures, said Emily Doyle Moore of the Santa Fe Opera.
Featured solos include “Quando m’en vo” from La Bohème, the “Seguidilla” from Carmen, “Una furtiva lagrima” from The Elixir of Love, and “Si può? Si può?,” the baritone prologue to Pagliacci, she said.
“It’s a lot of well-known opera and audience favorites,” Doyle Moore said.