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TULAROSA, NM--Christmas in Southern New Mexico
Dec. 15, 2012: For those who might be in the Alamogordo or Ruidoso area at Christmas, one way to experience a traditional New Mexico Christmas is to see the luminarias at the Catholic Church in Tularosa, a historic town about ten miles north of Alamogordo.

Setting up luminarias
Setting up luminarias

It seems that practically the entire town participates in setting up the hundreds of luminarias at the church and along the main street in front of the church. I have seen luminarias in several New Mexico towns, but the ones here are some of the most elaborate.

The Catholic Church in Tularosa
The Catholic Church in Tularosa

The church has the typical Spanish style architecture that is found in New Mexico, and this one dates from 1869. Even without Christmas decorations Tularosa is quite photogenic, and is worth a stop if you are in the area.

The manger scene
The manger scene

Of course the tradition of luminarias signifies lighting the way for Mary and Joseph to find their way to the stable where Christ was born. The luminarias are set out on Christmas eve (in Tularosa it is in late afternoon), and after dark they light the way to the manger as well as the mass held in church.

Casa de Sueños in Tularosa
Casa de Sueños in Tularosa

Of course most restaurants are closed late on Christmas eve and on Christmas day, but at other times visitors to Tularosa can enjoy traditional New Mexican cuisine at Casa de Sueños on the south edge of town. I particularly liked the red enchiladas with blue corn tortillas (the blue corn variety is not normally served in southern New Mexico). Casa de Sueños is not particularly spicy, but it is spicy enough to be what I would call "real" New Mexican food that is not dumbed down for tourists. Quite a few tourists stop here, though, because of its reputation for serving delicious New Mexican style food.

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