Thousands of farolitos magically appear in December throughout Santa Fe. The tradition of the farolito was not passed down through Spanish Colonial New Mexico. But rather, after the first square-bottomed bag was patented by Luther Childs Crowell of Boston, Mass., on Feb. 20,1872. During the latter part of 19th century the farolito became popular. However, their present popular usage as lighting devices justifies their peculiarly New Mexican name of farolito (little lantern).
A Cemetery Christmas
Another 20th century tradition that incorporates the use of the farolito takes place at the cemetery. On Christmas Eve families gather to spend time with their deceased loved ones. The preparation for the celebration begins in the late afternoon. The graves are lined with the small paper sacks filled with sand and candles. The farolitos are lit during the evening celebration to welcome the birth of the Christ child.