Down through the ages, light from fire has served as a destination beacon for travelers. Two thousand years ago, shepherds marked the way to the manger of the Christ Child with small bonfires.
For centuries, to symbolize this tradition, the people of Mexico have gathered Christmas Eve to light large bonfires in the village commons to pray and welcome the baby Jesus.
During the 10th century in Northen Mexico, these bonfires were made from criss-crossed pinion sticks to light the way to their homes.
Early in the 20th century, one family had been unable to prepare their traditional bonfire because of an illness in the family. As the Holiday season grew near, the youngest child placed a broken candle in a paper bag partially filled with sand and placed it outside to keep the tradition and welcoming spirit alive. The Luminaires have become one of the most popular ways for people to extend this custom to present day.
They originated as paper bag with sand in the bottom of them to anchor the lit candles and are used to line walkways, patios and courtyards during the Holiday Season. This tradition is still observed in the many homes in the Great Southwest and in other parts of the country. This unique tradition of bag-and-candle lanterns has been celebrated for over 300 years.