Our state’s spirit is only understood by New Mexicans

Growing up, once we got done baking biscochitos and filling the corn husks with masa and red chile, I would always help Dad set up luminarias. After we finished our house, we’d take the trip down to Albuquerque to help my grandparents with luminiarias, too. Everywhere we went we would always made sure to share biscochitos with family, friends, and even the mail carrier. Christmas eve has always been a family holiday favorite.

On Christmas Eve in 2020, just after I finished filling paper bags with sand and candles, I read an article about our state’s Christmas spirit. According to a study by GetCenturyLink, New Mexico ranks 48th in Christmas spirit. Reading this, I immediately got offended because I’ve lived in New Mexico my whole life and knew our traditions were especially significant around the holidays.

This article reminded me of a conversation I had with a lady the other day about Michigan. She explained to me how Christmas in Michigan was a lot more commercialized than here. So, was our Christmas low in spirit or was it just misunderstood by the rest of the country? I’ve read articles about New Mexico from out-of-state writers but time and time again they’ve came far from the truth. Can you really understand someone’s culture if you haven’t experienced it?

It wasn’t that our Christmas spirit was low at all; in fact, our Christmas spirit was the best in the country. Waking up to tamales, biscochitos, posolé, and Christmas-style enchiladas ready to be served in the morning. Strangers would help strangers fill luminarias down streets, neighborhoods. Generous New Mexicans were making sure everyone had food and toys who couldn’t afford them. The Christmas spirit couldn’t be hidden in the Land of Enchantment.

Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, everyone knew the magic behind a New Mexicans holiday spirit. It wasn’t about the snowflakes on the streetlight poles, the tumbleweed snowman on I-25, but instead it’s about our rich culture.

That lady from Michigan came to New Mexico to realize what New Mexico was truly about. While the rest of the country was falling into a commercialized trap, our great state keeps following deep, strong traditions we practiced growing up.

Alejandro Tarango