lu·​mi·​nar·​ia | \ ˌlü-mə-ˈner-ē-ə How to pronounce luminaria (audio) \
plural luminarias

Definition of luminaria

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

Did you know?

Luminaria is a fairly recent addition to English; early usage dates from the 1930s, about the time that the Mexican Christmas custom started to gain 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 Each luminaria costs between $5,500-$6,000 and made possible with a $50,000 grant from Hudson-Webber. Susan Selasky, Detroit Free Press, 1 Feb. 2021 Place your home luminaria in your driveway and then drive by Porter’s Hill to see H-O-P-E light up the town., 11 Dec. 2020 Each $10 kit contains supplies to make 12 luminaria, including white bags, 10 pounds of sand and 15-hour candles from A.I. Root. Sam Boyer, cleveland, 6 Nov. 2020 A million lights drape saguaros, ocotillos and paloverde trees as luminarias guide visitors along shimmering pathways through the park’s 49 acres. Roger Naylor, azcentral, 22 Nov. 2019 The event includes vendors in the medical, health and wellness fields and a luminaria ceremony. Houston Chronicle, 27 Jan. 2020 From 5-8 p.m. Dec. 17, stroll through the charming downtown where the sidewalks are lined by thousands of luminarias. Roger Naylor, azcentral, 22 Nov. 2019 For 26 years, residents have held the event on a December Sunday, decorating their homes and lining the streets with luminarias. Cathy Kozlowicz, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 10 Dec. 2019 Surrounded by 50,000 desert plants, visitors will walk along a path to find elaborate luminaria formations lighting up the night sky to the tune of performances by various local artists. Kimi Robinson, azcentral, 23 Nov. 2019 See More

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.

First Known Use of luminaria

1934, 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 1934

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Cite this Entry

“Luminaria.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Aug. 2022.

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