Christmas Around The World
Today, let’s leave snow drifts behind and head down to Northern New Mexico to a Hispanic community in the village of San Juan.
The Farolitos of Christmas by Rudolfo Anaya, illustrated by Edward Gonzales (1990)
For ages 5-9
Luz, is a young Hispanic girl, living with her mother and grandfather, during World War II. Her father was wounded in the war and is now recovering at a hospital. It’s a tradition in their village that the house with the brightest luminaries welcome the shepherds who come down the mountains on their way to church. They stop and sing in front of the house. Every year, Luz’s house is chosen thanks to her grandfather/s Luminaries. But, this year, her grandfather, who cuts the logs for the luminaries, is ill. There may not have be any luminaries or any shepherds singing. But Luz saves the day, when she comes up with a great alternative to the logs to light the way.
Anaya focuses on Luz’s relationship with her grandfather, as well as the close knit community of this small village. The natural beauty of Northern New Mexico is woven into the story as well – the tall peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the bare desert scape in winter, the glow of the setting sun and the bright starry nights.
Here’s an excerpt:
“Abuelo held the matchbox. Luz and Reina carefully went from bag to bag and lit each candle. Soon a hundred farolitos shone brightly in the dusk.
Then the pastores came down the road. They stopped to look at the farolitos glowing in the dark.”
With stunning illustrations by Edward Gonzales and many traditions and Spanish words throughout the story, including a glossary of terms in the back, this is a great introduction to Hispanic Americans Christmas traditions.
Rudolfo Anaya, who was raised in Santa Rosa, New Mexico, is the author of the classic book, Bless Me, Ultima. His children’s books include Farolitos of Christmas, Farolitos for Abuelo, My Land Sings, Elegy on the Death of César Chávez, Roadrunner’s Dance, and The First Tortilla.