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Faith-based tradition: Taos Pueblo Procession of the Virgin Mary

Friends, relatives and visitors gather in the Pueblo Plaza around towering luminarias on Christmas Eve

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 Nowhere else on Earth can you experience the magical Taos Pueblo Procession. Unchanged and unmatched in wonder and drama, Taos Pueblo holds the Procession of the Virgin Mary celebration where friends, relatives and visitors gather in the Pueblo Plaza around towering luminarias in anticipation of the annual Christmas Eve tradition.

Beginning at sundown, witness a stunning contrast between massive bonfires, rifle salutes and the Procession of the Virgin Mary. This is a traditional celebration of beauty, heritage and awe-inspiring imagery. The scent of burning ocote wood permeates the dark winter air like incense. Startling gunshots are heard as Pueblo men fire hunting rifles toward the stars as part of the tradition of welcoming La Nocha Buena (the good night) and La Navidad (Christmas — the birth of Christ).

Once the riflemen signal the birth of Christ, they part the crowd to allow passage for the procession featuring a statue of the Virgin Mary hoisted high upon a dais. They carry her from San Geronimo Chapel into the plaza. Accompanying the procession are Pueblo drummers, dancers and female singers — singing in English and Tiwa — as Mary is returned to the church.

Tempo Editor Rick Romancito of The Taos News best articulates the purpose and magic of the procession: “It’s an expression of hope that connects our collective past and the present, a visual cue that all is still vital and well in the world, and a spiritual jolt to the senses that makes real the sacred, pagan, native and secular bond between us all.”

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