Definition of luminaria
: a traditional Mexican Christmas lantern originally consisting of a candle set in sand inside a paper bag
luminaria was our Word of the Day on 12/25/2014. Hear the podcast!
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).
Origin and Etymology of luminaria
Spanish, decorative light, from Late Latin
First Known Use: 1949
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