One of the things that makes Taos such a wonderful place to live is the intertwining of its three main cultures: the Pueblo, the Spanish and everyone else who moved here over many, many years, drawn to Taos by its magic. The winter holidays are something all three celebrate together and in their own distinct way.
The celebrations start before Thanksgiving, but many of the more traditional ones happen closer to Christmas. On December 12, the merchants of Bent St. and the John Dunn Shops will hold the 27th Annual Bonfires on Bent Street event. From 10:00 A.M. to 7:00 P. M., the Bent St. merchants will be showing off their decorations and farjolitos, serving food and hot beverages, and lighting bonfires. The street is pedestrian only and the shops are open.
More bonfires will be burning on December 19 at La Noche on Taos Plaza. Santa will be there for the kids, there will be Mexican hot chocolate and the gorgeous holiday decorations and Christmas tree will be lit up.
Las Posadas are a centuries-old Spanish tradition and one of the most popular in Taos. Las Posadas are processional enactments of the Virgin Mary and Joseph going door to door looking for shelter for the baby Jesus. Running from December 15 to December 24, the Las Posadas Enactments take place over the traditional nine-day period in various churches, parishes and private homes in the Taos area. On December 20, there is a mass and Posada at the Capilla in Los Cordovas. On Christmas Eve, there is a Las Posadas at 11:45 P.M. and a midnight mass at the San Francisco de Asis church in Ranchos de Taos.
The Taos Pueblo holds two traditional Christmas ceremonies, one on Christmas Eve and one on Christmas Day. The Procession of the Virgin on Christmas Eve is truly a magic evening. You’ll hear celebratory rifle salutes from the roof of the 1,000-year old buildings and see massive bonfires over 15 feet tall. This is one of the most attended events during the entire year.
The Christmas Day Deer Dance is a traditional drum and dance ceremony that is purely Native American. Because of this, there are no cameras or cell phones allowed. Asking Pueblo people to explain the tradition is considered rude.
Finally, if you are staying in Taos Ski Valley on Christmas Eve, you can watch the annual Torch Light Procession. At 6:00 P.M., dozens of skiers will snake down the mountain with only flares to light their path. There are always a few showoffs who throw in a few tricks, not always successfully. There is another torch light and excellent fireworks on New Years Eve.