OldWestNewWest.com: History & Travel Magazine

Feb 21st
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size
Home Things to Do Festivals Aztec Ruins to Host Evening of Lights Winter Solstice Observance

Aztec Ruins to Host Evening of Lights Winter Solstice Observance

Hits smaller text tool iconmedium text tool iconlarger text tool icon
The annual Evening of Lights observance, featuring a winter solstice alignment, 2,000 glowing luminarias, and holiday treats, will be held on Dec. 19, 2012, from 4:30 to 8 p.m. at Aztec Ruins National Monument in New Mexico.

The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year and marks the official start of winter. It is still an important time of ceremony for many Native American people.

aztecruinsThe evening will begin with storytelling at 4:30 p.m. in the Great Kiva. At 4:45 p.m. park rangers will lead visitors to the winter solstice marker. For this special off-trail walk visitors must be escorted by a ranger. Visitors are encouraged to arrive on-time, wear sturdy walking shoes, and bring a flashlight.

As the sun goes down at about 5 p.m., 2,000 luminarias will light the historic Visitor Center district. Hot cocoa and cookies will be served by the Friends of Aztec Ruins, and the Western National Parks Association bookstore will stay open late for holiday shopping.

The park will be open for regular visitor hours 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Event hours will be 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Local students are helping to fill, place, and light the luminarias.

If you would like to see the winter solstice alignment, you must be at the Great Kiva for the talk at 4:30 p.m. or at the park's Visitor Center no later than 4:45 p.m. Arrive anytime between 5 to 8 p.m. to enjoy the luminarias.

Volunteers are coming from Lydia Rippey Elementary and Aztec, Farmington, and Bloomfield High Schools. The public is welcome to come collect luminaria bags the following day (Dec. 20) to recycle in another display.

The bookstore has lots of great new merchandise this year, including jewelry, Zuni fetishes, and children's books. Visotors can read about how the ancestral Pueblo people marked the winter solstice; Western National Parks Association bookstore at the park sells two books and two videos on ancestral Pueblo archaeoastronomy.

A portion of all book sales in the non-profit organization's stores go right back to the park, and other proceeds are used for research and publications. For example, the bookstore helped fund Junior Ranger camps at Aztec Ruins last summer.

Pueblo people describe this site as part of their migration journey. Today visitors can follow their ancient passageways to a distant time. Explore a 900-year old Ancestral Pueblo Great House of over 400 masonry rooms. Look up and see original timbers holding up the roof. Search for the fingerprints of ancient workers in the mortar. Listen for an echo of ritual drums in the reconstructed Great Kiva.

Aztec Ruins National Monument is located on Ruins Road about a half mile north of New Mexico Highway 516, in the City of Aztec, New Mexico. For more information, visit the Web site at
www.nps.gov/azru/ .

Things to Do