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The Farolitos of Christmas

Region: North America, U.S., New Mexico

Author: Rudolfo Anaya

Original Language: Bilingual: Spanish-English

Translator: Rudolfo Anaya

Illustrator: Amy Córdova

Genre: Holiday Stories

Descriptors: family; farolitos; friendship; lanterns; promises; Saints; war

Age: 5-8 years old

Programming Ideas: DIY Farolitos


The Farolitos of Christmas by Rudolfo Anaya is a bilingual picture book that tells the fictional story of how the first farolito was created. A farolito is a small candle in a paper bag, typically placed outside at night around Christmas. In the story, a young girl named Luz lives with her grandfather and mother while her father is away at war. Each year on Christmas, her grandfather builds a luminaria (bonfire) out of piñon wood as a promise to Santo Niño. The Santo Niño is a saint that protects Luz’s father while he is away at war. The Luminaria attracts Los Pastores as they walk to church, keeps them warm as they sing prayers, and eventually leads them into Luz’s house for warm posole. The act of serving Los Pastores pleases Santo Niño. However, this year Luz’s grandfather is sick and cannot work outside to create the luminarias. Luz worries for her father’s safety and wants to help her grandfather keep his promise to Santo Niño. She devises a plan to create small luminaries out of paper bags, called farolitos. Will Luz’s plan work? This picture book is illustrated by renowned Taos artist, Amy Cordova. Her art creates a sense of place within the story and transports you to the mountains of San Juan, New Mexico. Overall the book is divided into three chapters and contains much background information on New Mexican Christmas traditions for children, with a special attention to the year 1944. The story itself is 16 pages long and a perfect read aloud for children 5 to 8.

More About This Book

Reviewed: print book by Museum of New Mexico Press (2015). ISBN 9780890136096. 48 p.

Reviewed by: Raquel Martinez 

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