Christmas Eve Bonfires & Procession of the Virgin

at Taos Pueblo
The drama of Christmas Eve unfolds at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, amid the orange and purple hues of a winter sunset. At sundown at Taos Pueblo’s San Geronimo chapel, the archbishop of Santa Fe presides over vespers. As the sky darkens to a deep blue, torches are lit, and families build huge bonfires of ocote pine in the main plaza. Small bonfires are scattered throughout the plaza and in front of homes. Residents gather on rooftops covered in snow.

At the end of vespers, the chapel bells peal. The archbishop and acolytes lead a procession out of the tiny chapel, followed by six men carrying a dais that holds the statue of the Virgin Mary under a billowing canopy. At the front of the procession, Pueblo men carrying rifles shoot live ammunition into the air to announce her arrival. Drummers, members of the church choir and guests of the bonfires join in the procession. The beauty, mystery and power of the scene are profound.

The Taos Pueblo extends a warm welcome to their Taos neighbors and to all friends of the Pueblo to join them for Christmas Eve bonfires and the Procession of the Virgin Mary.