A true luminaria is a series of small bonfires lining the roads. Luminarias are linked throughout history to the ancient tradition of communicating, warning and celebrating through linked bonfires. In the early 1800's, US settlers in the Southwest brought beautiful Chinese lanterns to hang from their doorways instead of building bonfires. But the Chinese lanterns were too fragile. In the 1820’s, when Yankee traders brought brown paper sacks down the Santa Fe Trail people began to make small paper lanterns out of paper sacks as an alternative to bonfires. Farolitos, small paper bags with sand in the bottom and a small candle inside to light the bag became a substitute for the more dangerous bonfires. Today they are used to line walkways, driveways and roof tops as a way to welcome people into your home.