Christmas Eve At The Taos Pueblo Will Blow You Away

P1010922 copyTaos is a magical place made all the more so by the diverse cultures that make up its population. The Indians. Hispanics and Anglos all celebrate different days in different ways although they do come together for some of them.

To me the most incredible event of the year takes place on Christmas Eve at the Pueblo. Many of you may know that when the Hispanics came to northern NM, they imposed their religion on the Indians. (Like they cut off the hands and feet of those that did not convert which is pretty effective tool to get compliance. But I digress.) As a result there is a Roman Catholic Church on the Pueblo but there are also underground chambers, or kivas, where the Tiwa still practice their own belief

In can be really really cold out there but folks will start gathering about an hour before sunset. Sometime between then and the time the procession starts – remember this is Indian time so there is no definite time for any of this – the pyres will be lit. These are mountains of cedar wood stacked with a lot of air to allow for combustion and when lit, they give off an amazing amount of smoke and heat. Those in attendance rush to get close- not too close as the flames can soar skyward up to 50 feet – for warmth while they await the start of the procession.

Some time after the sun sets, and the real cold has set in, the evening will get under way. The folks who came to watch move into a large circle thru which the participants will pass, trying at the same time to stay near the pyres. I don’t want to give much away if you’ve not seen it. But there are rifles firing, elders marching and children following. To me there is nothing – nothing – that goes on here that matches this for spirit or feeling or awe. Except for the rifles themselves it could be 400 years ago.

This starts at the Church and ends at the Church and the whole event takes less than a half hour. But it is a half hour you will not forget. I did 17 straight years regardless of the outside temps and loved each one. You will, too, if you can get here for Christmas.

I need to say that the Indians allow us to watch their ceremonies but ask that we not take pictures. This past year so many folks violated that that it was upsetting. In a cell phone world it is easier to be surreptitious. But our Indian brothers were quite upset that so much of what they hold sacred was all over social media like a bad car accident. So if you go, leave your camera and cell phone at home or in the car but just take what you see in without recording it. If you want to see it again, come back for another mental image. That will carry you till the next year.

Category : Taos Real Estate Blog



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