Traditions aglow

All is calm, all is bright

Annual lighting of the trees

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From mankind’s past, long before the arrival of Christianity, trees and plants that kept their leaves and stayed green all winter held a magical meaning.

In the Northern hemisphere during the winter solstice, many ancient cultures believed that the sun was a god and that winter came every year because the sun god had become weak from illness. They celebrated the solstice because it meant that finally the sun god would begin to heal and bring warmthto the Earth once again. They would hang evergreen boughs over doors and windows to remind them of all the green plants that would reappear once the sun god was strong enough to return summer to them.

Germany is credited with starting what we know as the Christmas tree tradition in the 16th century when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. It is a widely held belief that Martin Luther, the 16th-century German Protestant reformer, was the first to put lighted candles on a tree. The story goes that walking home one winter evening while composing a sermon, he was awestruck by the splendor of stars twinkling amidst evergreen trees. To recreate the scene for his family, Luther put a tree in the main room of their home and wired its branches with lighted candles.

The 2017 Taos Holiday season officially kicks off with the 31st annual lighting of the town Christmas tree during the 31st annual Yuletide Caroling and Tree Lighting on Friday, Dec. 1, from 4-6 p.m. at the Historic Taos Plaza. The towering white fir — gifted to the citizens of Taos from Taos Pueblo on Dec. 10, 1995 — and many of the Plaza’s other branches and trunks will be dripping in sparkling luminescence.

Join Mayor Dan Barrone and your neighbors for and more with details to be announced. Stay up to date on the festivities by going online to taosgov.com and taosnews.com/calendar.

Mr. and Mrs. Claus, however, have confirmed their sleigh ride to Taos and ride in the Electric Light Parade around the Plaza after which Santa will be handing out Christmas stockings stuffed with treats. And don’t be surprised if the Grinch is once again a sleigh stowaway.

To keep warm and full, there will be complimentary hot chocolate and cookies. Bonfires and farolitos will add to the warmth

and holiday spirit.

Many businesses on Taos Plaza will be open late for the event and vehicles will not be allowed in the Plaza during festivities. Special parking arrangements will be provided for people requiring ADA access to the event.

Another tall-tree spectacle will be displayed at the Historic Taos Inn when the switch is flipped on Dec. 2 at approximately 6 p.m. A beautifully adorned tree will once again grace the hotel’s lobby and Adobe Bar area from its stand (converted during the season from a fountain) that was once a community well before the hotel was a hotel. Built in the 1800s, the structure was originally made up of several adobe homes and the well sat in the middle of a community courtyard. The Adobe Bar was also originally a residence. The hotel’s restaurant, Doc Martin’s, is named after the respected physician and one section of it was one of his operating rooms. The inn was placed on the National and State Registers of Historic Places in 1982.

The night’s festivities also include live music, because every night there’s live entertainment at The Taos Inn. The landmark hotel with the neon Thunderbird sign is located at 125 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. Call (575) 758-2223 or visit taosinn.com.

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