In the American Southwest, there’s a Christmas Eve tradition of decorating and visiting the graves of loved ones. Hispanic families will line graves with luminarias, simple paper bags weighted with sand and glowing with the light from a single votive candle.
Catholic cemeteries in New Mexico are very busy places on Christmas Eve. Acres of graves illuminated by luminarias glow throughout the night. The number of visitors rivals cemetery traffic on Memorial Day weekend.
You don’t have to be Catholic or Hispanic to adopt this lovely tradition. Families at home on Christmas Eve can memorialize their loved ones who have died with a luminaria display outside on the lawn. You can see examples of different displays in this Mortality Minute video.
If you really want to get into the Southwestern spirit, indulge in traditional holiday foods like tamales, posole, biscochitos, and red or green chile stews.
However, you celebrate, wishing you and yours a warm and loving holiday season.
Gail Rubin, CT, is a death educator who works with organizations to connect with baby boomers and seniors concerned about end-of-life issues. She uses humor and funny films to teach about sensitive topics. She’s the author of A GOOD GOODBYE: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die, and her latest book is, KICKING THE BUCKET LIST: 100 Downsizing and Organizing Things to Do Before You Die. Download a 50-point Executor’s Checklist from the book and learn more at www.AGoodGoodbye.com.
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