Childrens Book Review of The Farolitos of Christmas by Rudolfo Alfonso Anaya

by DerdriuMarriner

Guests and locals appreciate New Mexico’s gorgeous climate and scenery. They enjoy the state’s multi-culturalism. Hispanic legacies make “The Farolitos of Christmas” unforgettable.

New Mexico appeals to long-term guests, repeat tourists, and short-term visitors year round. The forty-seventh state of the United States of America particularly attracts crowds to its unusual scenery, vivid coloration, and welcoming weather during the warm months in:
• Autumn;
• Spring;
• Summer.

Nomads and sojourners during the winter months nevertheless are not at a loss for people to see, places to go, and things to do. New Mexico conserves a multi-lingual multi-culturalism whose vibrancy particularly is manifest during the year’s-end holidays. Everyone indeed deserves the opportunity to witness the Land of Enchantment’s traditional Christmas celebrations and decorations. The annual procession of Las Posadas (The Inns) draws upon New Mexico’s bonfires and candles in “The Farolitos of Christmas.”

"The Farolitos of Christmas" includes the annual procession of Las Posadas (The Inns), a re-enactment of Mary and Joseph's unsuccessful quest for a room in an inn in Bethlehem. ~

Saint Joseph cherche un gîte à Bethléem ("Saint Joseph Seeks a Lodging in Bethlehem"): 1886 - 1894 opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper by James Tissot (October 15, 1836 – August 8, 1902)
Brooklyn Museum
Brooklyn Museum


Urbanites and villagers consider it a great honor to participate in and witness New Mexico’s world-famous re-enactment of the search by Joseph (died July 20, A.D. 18/19) and Mary (18 B.C.? – A.D. 41?)  for lodgings on December 24 to accommodate the expected birth of their son, Jesus of Nazareth (6 B.C.? – A.D. 29?), the following day. Participants crowd into rehearsal sessions and gather necessary costumes, decorations, and props. The procession of the Holy Couple depends upon lights for its progress and visibility. The lighting draws upon:

  • The bright warmth of luminarias (bonfires);
  • The romantic flames of farolitos (little candles).

Generations of fire-builders and lantern-makers furnish each year’s supply of:

  • Candles, paper bags, sand;
  • Kindling and tinder wood.


Little lights in paper bags (farolitas) are a beloved part of the Christmas season in New Mexico.

Albuquerque, Bernalillo County, central New Mexico
Albuquerque, Bernalillo County, central New Mexico


But the residents of San Juan in New Mexico’s northern county of Río Arriba confront an unenviable, unexpected challenge. They do not have access to the annual services and yearly skills of the community’s traditional woodcutter. Luz’s father experiences the respective honor and stress of serving in and suffering during his country’s wartime military commitments. His fellow villagers find that they likewise cannot tap his trainer for the job since Luz’s grandfather is ill. But they ultimately have no doubts as to Christmas holidays being the season of miracles. With such holiday faith and joy, no one in the village is disappointed when:

  • Luz invents alternative lighting;
  • Luz’s father manages to get leave approved;
  • Luz’s grandfather recovers.


The spectacular landscape of Luz's homeland, New Mexico's north central county of Rio Arriba, confirms the state's nickname as "The Land of Enchantment":

view from Embudo, a census designated place about 15+ miles (24+ km) northeast of Luz's village of San Juan.
Carson National Forest, north central New Mexico
Carson National Forest, north central New Mexico



The Farolitos of Christmas benefits from the consummate, coordinated inputs of:

  • Rudolfo Alfonso Anaya, as author;
  • Edward Gonzales, as illustrator in the book version;
  • Hyperion Books for Children, as publisher in 1995;
  • New Mexico Magazine, as publisher in 1987;
  • Richard C. Sandoval, as illustrator in the magazine version.

The “must-own” book fills many roles in educational and familial settings. It is listed as oriented to:

  • Ages 5 – 9 and upward;
  • Grades kindergarten through fourth grade and onward.

The plot’s message of faith, ingenuity, love, perseverance, and respect readily responds to formal and informal applications by parents, readers, and teachers in regard to:

  • American regional and state history;
  • Cultural enrichment;
  • Educational entertainment;
  • Holiday observances;
  • Literary criticism;
  • Spanish language-learning.


The Farolitos of Christmas by Rudolfo Anaya ~ illustrated by Edward Gonzales

It's Christmas in San Juan, New Mexico, and young Luz worries that with her grandfather sick and her father in hospital, wounded from the war, they won't have their usual celebration. Luz decides to make little lanterns (farolitos) to light a path.
Christmas story



My special thanks to:

  • Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.


The starriest of skies: star-studded splendor of southeastern Rio Arriba County, north central New Mexico, about 15+ miles (16+ km) northeast of Luz's village of San Juan.

Angel's trumpets (Datura) with a view
Embudo, southeastern Rio Arriba County, north central New Mexico
Embudo, southeastern Rio Arriba County, north central New Mexico

Sources Consulted


Anaya, Rudolfo. 1995. The Farolitos of Christmas. New York, NY: Hyperion Books for Children.

“Anaya, Rudolfo Alfonso.” Notable Biographies. Retrieved December 6, 2014.

  • Available at:

“Rudolfo Anaya.” Children’s Literature: Meet Authors & Illustrators. Retrieved December 6, 2014.

  • Available at:

“Rudolfo Anaya.” Cinco Puntos Press: Authors. El Paso, Texas. Retrieved December 6, 2014.

  • Available at:


the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

Chimayo, New Mexico - Santuario de Chimayó lit up for Christmas: photo by Julien McRoberts ~ Lights and farolitos illuminate the historic Catholic chapel ~

Santuario de Nuestro Señor de Esquipulas (El Santuario de Chimayó) is in Chimayo, census designated place about 10 miles (16 km) southeast of Luz's village of San Juan.
Chimayo, New Mexico, Usa. Santurario De Chimayo Lit Up for Christmas

Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 12/06/2014, DerdriuMarriner
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