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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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NMSU to host 23rd annual 'Noche de Luminarias'

"Noche de Luminarias," a 23-year tradition at New Mexico State University, will allow students, faculty, staff, and the Las Cruces community the opportunity to stroll the campus by the light of more than 6,000 luminarias from 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2 at the Corbett Center Student Union.

NMSU students Ivette Guzman and Neda Keyhaninejad study the color and heat characteristics of chile peppers. (NMSU Photo by Darren Phillips)

"Noche de Luminarias" (Night of Lights) is one of the largest luminaria displays in southern New Mexico. The myriad of small lanterns will line the walking paths of the International Mall and surrounding area of the campus, from the Educational Services Building to Corbett Center. The luminarias are set out and lit as a fundraising event by Las Cruces High School Band members.

Festivities will include music, caroling, rides in a horse-drawn trolley and a visit with Santa Claus. Children can have a picture taken with Santa for $1. Musical entertainment this year will include "Vista Vibrations," the Vista Middle School Handbells; "Ballet Kalpana," from Columbia Elementary School; as well as the NMSU DanceSport club. The NMSU Bookstore will be open for their annual 20 percent off holiday sale on clothing and select items. Refreshments will be served in the lobbies of the first and second level of Corbett Center.

Last year's festivities drew more than 1,000 participants. Bruce Vandevender, assistant director of campus activities, said the event has always been well received by the campus and community.

"I can not think of a better way to begin the holiday season than by walking around the campus engulfed in the warmth of light provided by the luminarias and listening to the sounds of caroling and children laughing," Vandevender said. "There is excitement everywhere. Somehow it magically transforms even the oldest person into a little kid."

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 United States 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 sponsored by NMSU Campus Activities, Auxiliary Administration, Corbett Center Student Union, the Dean of Students, Vice President for Student Success and the NMSU President's Office.

The events are free and everyone is welcome to attend. For more information, contact campus activities at 646-3200.