Opinion

Marc Simmons: 1st Christmas was at Ohkay Owingeh in 1598





"For newcomers, their first Christmas in New Mexico often catches them by surprise. The sacred holiday here always seems a bit foreign, or even exotic, and at the very least unfamiliar.

The first Christmas of record occurred in 1598 with a midnight Mass at a hastily constructed church adjacent to the newly named San Juan Pueblo (now called Ohkay Owingeh). Participants were New Mexico’s founder, Juan de Oñate, and his colonists.

They and their successors introduced rituals and customs that traced back to old Spain. Nochebuena (Christmas Eve) and Navidad (Christmas Day) were at the center of an extended season honoring the birth of Christ.

Over the centuries, the holidays became deeply embedded in the local folk culture, developing along the way its own distinctive flavor."

Get the Story:
Marc Simmons: Trail Dust: Three cultures flavor New Mexico Christmas traditions (The Santa Fe New Mexican 12/22)

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