lu·mi·nar·ia | \ˌlü-mə-ˈner-ē-ə \
plural luminarias

Definition of luminaria 

: a traditional Mexican Christmas lantern originally consisting of a candle set in sand inside a paper bag

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Did You Know?

Luminaria is a fairly recent addition to English; the earliest known use in our language dates from 1949, about the time that the old Mexican Christmas custom was gaining popularity among Anglo-Americans. In some parts of the U.S., particularly New Mexico, these festive lanterns are also called farolitos, which means "little lanterns" in Spanish. We borrowed luminaria from Spanish, but the word has been around with exactly the same spelling since the days of Late Latin. The term ultimately traces to the classical Latin luminare, meaning "window," and to lumen, meaning "light." It is related to other light-bearing words such as luminary, illuminate, and phillumenist (a fancy name for someone who collects matchbooks).

Examples of luminaria in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Trick-or-treat along a half mile of desert trail lit by luminarias, hear stories by the campfire, and learn about the real creepy crawlies that call the desert home. Alison Stanton, azcentral, "47 Halloween events around Phoenix scare up fun for all ages," 31 Oct. 2017 The walk, scheduled to end Sunday, includes cancer survivors and caregivers and a luminaria ceremony. Daily Pilot Staff,, "Costa Mesa Relay for Life steps up to fight cancer," 23 June 2018 Family-friendly event features Kids Zone, live entertainment, DJ, raffles, silent auction, homemade dessert auction, food stands, luminaria ceremony and more. Rasputin Todd,, "Things to do this week in Cincinnati: June 4-10," 4 June 2018 There's always something going on, such as the Music in the Garden series, art exhibits, plant sales, workshops and special events such as the holiday luminaria display. azcentral, "From climate to fry bread, 125 reasons to love Arizona," 15 May 2015 Eagle River Nature Center staff have worked hard to create hundreds of ice luminarias as well, making this evening party something to brighten up even the grinchiest grouch. Erin Kirkland, Anchorage Daily News, "It’s dark and wet, but solstice is coming and you should venture outdoors," 14 Dec. 2017 Main Street Medina is looking for adult volunteers to help chaperone Key Club students in making the luminaria and wrapping city streetlight poles with garlands. Ann Norman,, "Lolly the Trolley returns to Medina Candlelight Walk Nov. 17-19," 3 Nov. 2017 During the luminaria ceremony, teams light candles or glow sticks inside white paper bags with names and memories of those who've died from cancer. Andrew Michaels, Laurel Leader, "First-time Laurel Relay for Life teams unite in fight against cancer," 12 June 2017 A highlight of the ceremony will be the presentation of an American flag encased in a frame, which will honor the service of Korean War veterans, and the lighting of luminaria around the Post's Memorial Circle. David Grunfeld,, "Memorial Day 2017: Lacombe VFW honors veterans by placing American flags in area cemeteries," 27 May 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'luminaria.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of luminaria

1949, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for luminaria

Spanish, decorative light, from Late Latin

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The first known use of luminaria was in 1949

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Spanish Central: Translation of luminaria

Comments on luminaria

What made you want to look up luminaria? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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