In many small Hispanic towns in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico, like Santa Fe, the holidays are marked by a series of cultural traditions. To name a few, the lighting of farolitos, a sacred pinecone ceremony and a religious celebration known as Las Posadas.
Included in the lineup is a holiday auction party on the evening of December 1 that allows you to purchase unique holiday gifts while contributing to a good cause. The events are all hosted by the Tesoro Cultural Center, which is a Colorado non-profit organization that celebrates the artistic treasures of the American past.
Farolito lighting and pinecone ceremony
Farolito lighting at The Fort — Photo courtesy of The Fort
Following Thanksgiving, from 4:30 pm to 6 pm on November 29, the farolito lighting and pinecone Ceremony is first up, and has been a tradition at the restaurant for more than 15 years. A unique alternative to the typical tree-lighting ceremony, this event replicates regional holiday traditions dating back to the 19th century.
It kicks off with a chosen honoree lighting the farolitos – paper bags filled with sand and illuminated with candles – in the open-air courtyard of The Fort, as onlookers sing 1830s and 1840s Christmas carols.
Additionally, as part of the pinecone ceremony, guests are given a pine cone and a piece of paper, and are invited to write a message to someone who lives far away or has passed. The message is tucked inside the pine cone, and tossed into a bonfire; 19th century ancestors believed that as the fire burned the pine cones, the messages were transported to the heavens.
Hot cider, Mexican hot chocolate and biscochito cookies are served as well. The event is free and open to the public.
Fifth Annual Holiday Auction Party
Holiday auction party at The Fort — Photo courtesy of Tesoro Cultural Center/The Fort Restaurant
The following Tuesday, from 6 pm to 9 pm on December 1, The Fort hosts the Fifth Annual Holiday Auction Party that supports Tesoro’s ongoing educational programming. The event is a great place to pick up some holiday gifts for difficult-to-shop-for friends and family.
Featuring both silent and live auctions, here you'll find one-of-a-kind items from buffalo steaks to Native American and Spanish colonial art to a gourmet wine getaway in Napa with a private cellar tour. The $25-per-person donation to the Tesoro Cultural Center gains entry and also includes hearty hors d'oeuvres, a cash bar, valet parking and music by the Jerry Mills bluegrass band.
The Las Posadas celebration on Christmas Eve — Photo courtesy of Tesoro Cultural Center
On Christmas Eve, The Fort hosts Las Posadas, a religious celebration that traditionally lasted for several weeks in Hispanic southern Colorado and northern New Mexico towns. It would include a reenactment of Joseph and Mary’s journey to Bethlehem as depicted in the Christian Bible.
In partnership with Christian Life Movement, Tesoro Cultural Center produces a condensed version of the tradition on December 24 from 4 pm to 5:30 pm on the grounds of The Fort. Children are invited to participate in a reenactment of the biblical scene.
Musicians play customary Las Posadas songs, a piñata is provided for the kids and complimentary biscochito cookies and Mexican hot chocolate are served.
About the Tesoro Cultural Center
The Tesoro Cultural Center (Tesoro means “treasure” in Spanish) is committed to protecting and making available to the community the artistic treasures of Colorado’s rich history and shared experiences with Southwest, Spanish, Mexican, Native American, African American and early European cultures.
From art and cuisine to historical re-enactments and music, the non-profit's mission is to create community-based events and educational outreach programs designed to enrich and celebrate our cultural heritage.
The Tesoro Cultural Center is located at The National Historic landmark called “The Fort” just south of Morrison, Colo. The Fort, which serves as a restaurant, is the first authentic replica of Bent’s Old Fort originally located near La Junta, Colo.