On Friday the University of New Mexico lit up with luminarias for the annual Hanging of the Greens. Students, alumni and community members gathered outside of the UNM bookstore to start their campus stroll, but after a cup of hot chocolate first.
Whether referred to as luminarias or farolitos, thousands of these little lights decorated campus. School organizations who participated created their own designs out of the glowing paper bags.
Members of the UNM Mortar Board society, the student organization that hosted the event, were clad in outfits from the North Pole. A band of student elves followed closely behind Mr. and Mrs. Clause as they led the crowd on their stroll.
The stroll had many stops along the way outside of the Student Union Building, Smith Plaza and the President’s House. After an enthusiastic rendition of the “Twelve Days of Christmas,”, the Mortar Board Society presented President Stokes with a Christmas wreath to hang outside of her home.
UNM senior Joey Robledo was present at the event and said this was his first time participating with the carolers.
“It’s great. I love the environment,” Robledo said. “I love people coming here, there’s different backgrounds but we’re all here to support and have fun at UNM.”
After stopping at the President’s House, the second to last stop along the way was outside of the Alumni Memorial Chapel where the crowd sang “Feliz Navidad.” Finally, everyone walked to Hodgin Hall for more hot chocolate and posole. People were also able to place unwrapped books under the tree at Hodgin Hall as donations to the UNM Children’s Hospital.
Since President Stokes took office earlier this year this was her first time participating in this UNM tradition.
“It’s really, really beautiful,” Stokes said. “The enthusiasm of the crowd… seeing all these lights, getting the wreath and having Santa Clause help me hang it up.”
Stokes said that she does not have a preference about the name of the little bags but it well aware of the naming debate.
“I’m sure I can just call them both and we’ll have it settled,” Stokes said.
UNM alumni and staff member Ethan Rule, has come to the Hanging of the Greens for the past six years but said he never participated as a student.
“It’s a good community thing so I think every year coming to it, even though it is the same thing, it’s still the most monumental community event that UNM has,” Rule said.
Rule said he habitually grew up calling these paper lights “luminarias” but became conflicted after someone from Santa Fe told him they were called “farolitos.”
“I just call them glowing paper bags,” he joked.
After the stroll people enjoyed the last bit of light as the flickering candles from within the bags began to fade.
Justine Lopez is a culture reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @justine_lopez95.