December 3, 2009 by Donyelle Kesler NMSU NewsCenter
The 25th annual “Noche de Luminarias” will illuminate the New Mexico State University campus from 6-8 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6.
One of the biggest luminaria displays in southern New Mexico, more than 5,000 luminarias will illuminate the campus starting at Piñon Hall, wrapping around the duck pond, following along the International Mall and surrounding Corbett Center Student Union. The display will be set up by the Las Cruces High School Band.
“Noche de Luminarias” or “Night of Lights” is a university tradition, which began in 1984 as the President’s Holiday reception. It is a way for the university to kick off the holiday season.
NMSU’s Dance Sport will perform at Crossroads inside Corbett Center. The Vista Vibrations of Vista Middle School will also perform to holiday music with hand bells inside the Corbett Center. The University Bookstore will open during the event and visitors can enjoy trolley rides around the luminaria route.
The New Mexican tradition of lighting luminarias can be dated back to the early 16th century. Small fires called luminarias, also known as farolitos, the Spanish word for “little lanterns,” were placed along the roads and churchyards to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ and guide individuals to midnight Mass. By the early 19th century, settlers in the U.S. were hanging Chinese lanterns from their doorways, but found the lanterns to be expensive, so many began to burn candles buried in sand and placed in small paper sacks.
Today, luminarias are placed throughout the Southwest as a symbol of hospitality and welcoming to all who cross our paths during the holiday season.
“Noche de Luminarias” is primarily sponsored by the Associated Students of New Mexico State University with contributions from Corbett Center Student Union, Campus Activities and Aramark. The event is free and open to the public. For more information call ASNMSU at (575) 646-4415.