The state of New Mexico is rich in culture, traditions, and customs that you are going to see firsthand during your trip to the region. It is important that when you are visiting New Mexico, that you are familiar with Christmas traditions because you are going to have the best experience in the area.

The early missionaries taught the people about the story of Mary and Joseph and ever since the local people have been observing Christian traditions during the Christmas period. The festivities during this period are called las posadas and it is usually characterized by a nine-day celebration that lasts from 16th December through Christmas Eve. Here are some of the common traditions that you are going to find in the region.


Many Mexicans around the state celebrate posadas during the month of December. This period of celebration lasts from 16th December to 24th December. However, they predominantly celebrate it on Christmas Eve due to the influence of other regional traditions.

These traditions are typically observed in churchyards and people’s backyards. To truly appreciate the experience during your visit to the area, it is essential to immerse yourself in these customs.

During these celebrations, parties are acted out with carolers dressed as angels, Mary, and Joseph, who sing songs. Neighbors respond with their own songs, and together they commemorate the special birth of Jesus with food, music, and drinks.

Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe

During your trip to the area, you have the opportunity to join the local residents in celebrating an event that typically takes place on December 12. The holiday season in various parts of New Mexico commences after Dia de Los Muertos, characterized by the presence of shops offering sugar skulls and poinsettia flowers.

On December 12, the Roman Catholic feast day of La Virgen de Guadalupe is widely observed in the region, including both Mexico and parts of New Mexico. Following the morning mass, the festivities unfold with people joining in the revelry, which includes music, parades, and a breathtaking exhibition of fireworks for you to enjoy during your visit to the region.

Nativity scenes

Nativity scenes are some of the features that make the state of New Mexico an exceptional place to visit during your trip to the region.

Instead of the largest Christmas trees, you will find people, especially those closer to the Mexican border, decorating their houses and even churches with nativity scenes.

These nativity scenes, popularly known as “Nacimiento” in the region, may include representations of the Virgin Mary, barn animals, baby Jesus, shepherds, and the three wise men.


In the state of New Mexico, Christmas is associated with a crisp, snowy season that is full of empanadas, cinnamon churros, and smoky sweet pinon wood fires. It is one of the seasons during which you can witness some of the most unique features, such as snow-covered cacti, and enjoy some of the most exceptional views in the region as you explore the state.

The desert in this region hosts a wide variety of thriving species, and during the Christmas period, you will have the opportunity to see these features firsthand. It is common to see local people celebrating various activities, with one notable tradition being “farolito.” This tradition has its origins in the late 16th century and is sometimes referred to as “luminarias.” It involves the creation of small bonfires along the roads leading to main hotels or shopping malls.

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During the Christmas period, people often carry small lanterns to illuminate the way for anyone seeking shelter on a cold night.


Luminarias is a significant event in the lives of the people of New Mexico, traditionally celebrated on Christmas Eve. When you travel to the region, you’ll have the chance to witness this celebration firsthand.

These luminarias illuminate the sides of the roads, church steps, and even pathways to homes. It’s crucial to note that this tradition is a part of “las posadas,” which commemorates the journey of the holy family from Nazareth to Bethlehem.

Las posadas spans from the 16th of December through the Christmas period, featuring songs, parades, and special holiday foods unique to the region, such as bizcochitos, pastelitos, and tamales. Luminarias play a significant role in these festivities, symbolizing the guiding light that helped the holy family find shelter in the region.

During this celebration, people in the region dress up as shepherds, angels, and kings, going from door to door in search of shelter. Typically, neighbors respond by singing and joining in the celebration.

When you visit the state of New Mexico, you have the opportunity to join the local people in celebrating this tradition, ensuring an exceptional experience.

River of lights

During your visit to the state of New Mexico during the Christmas period, you’ll have the opportunity to interact with people from different parts of the globe.

One significant event during this time is the River of Light in Albuquerque. It’s crucial to familiarize yourself with this tradition and the joy it brings. In this region, sound engineers have taken Christmas decoration and tradition to the next level. They use millions of lights coupled with incredible sound construction to create a dazzling experience, ensuring you have the best possible time.

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You can take your time to explore the exceptional features that make the state an ideal location for your evening delights. While New Mexico is a popular summer destination, it transforms into an exceptional winter destination during this major festival. Candles are everywhere, and you can join in the luminaria tradition.

Meander Madrid

Madrid is a town situated about 40 minutes away from Santa Fe, and it’s an ultimate destination to explore during the festive season. Historically, the region was a coal mining area in the 1920s, and during this period, the light displays in the region were truly exceptional. It’s essential to keep an eye out for the different features that make this location stand out, especially the holiday lights, which are particularly spectacular during this time.

Winter Spanish market

During your trip to the region, it’s crucial to discover the various customs and traditions that prevail. One of the most common traditions in the area is the winter Spanish market celebration.

A special mass is held on Christmas Eve at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, combining the traditions and customs of the people of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

On Christmas Eve, bonfires are traditionally lit along the Canyon Road, and people celebrate with dancing and singing as they eagerly await the appearance of Santa Claus.

Christmas dishes in New Mexico

During the holiday season, a wide array of dishes is served in different parts of New Mexico. As seasonal presents are unwrapped, you’ll get to enjoy some of the local dishes found in the region. Here are some of the celebratory dishes that you can find in different parts of the state.


Tamales are the most common dishes you’ll find in different parts of New Mexico, originating in Mexico. During your travels, you’ll encounter many people enjoying tamales, which consist of nixtamalized corn dough and sumptuous fillings that you can customize to your liking.

The corn-based masa dough can be stuffed with shredded beef, pork, or even turkey, providing a variety of options during this period. They are typically wrapped in corn husks and steamed until fully cooked. To enhance their flavor, tamales are often topped with red chili.


Bizcochitos are unique snacks and cookies commonly found in the region. It is imperative to explore the various snacks and desserts available in the state of New Mexico during the Christmas period.

New Mexicans have a tradition of passing down these holiday recipes from one generation to the next, making your trip to the region an amazing culinary experience.


This is a simple soup composed of hominy, which consists of specific large corn kernels without the hull. The dish offers various unique recipes that you can customize to your preference during your trip to the region. It can include ingredients such as chicken, pork, green and red chilies, making it one of the most common delicacies you’ll find in the area.

Boats parade in Carlsbad

One of the main traditions you’ll find in the state of New Mexico is the boat parade held in Carlsbad. During this season, boats glide on the Pecos River through a fairyland of twinkling lights created by over 100 local homeowners in the region. The boat tours typically last about one hour, offering a chance to learn more about the region’s history and diversity.

Enjoy yuletide in Taos

One of the most common traditions in the state of New Mexico is yuletide, which transforms the streets into a snowy wonderland filled with festive events. Yuletide encompasses the entire holiday season, celebrating unique traditions and customs during Christmas.

During your time in the region, a visit to Taos Pueblo is recommended, where you’ll experience a significant contrast between the procession of the Virgin and the massive bonfires. Christmas in New Mexico extends beyond a one-day event, offering the best experience as you immerse yourself in the local traditions.

Santa Claus

Santa Claus is an important figure during the Christmas period, and it is imperative that during your visit to the region, you understand that the people in the area believe in him.

Children eagerly look forward to receiving presents from Santa Claus, especially the well-behaved ones who receive their gifts on Christmas day. On Christmas day, you will find people opening and placing gifts under the Christmas tree for children to discover in the region.

Aurimas Bio

Hi there! I’m Aurimas, a man behind Go Look Explore. I’m passionate about hiking, exploring off-the-beaten-path destinations, and everything outdoors related. Let’s connect.