Ebinger's Aguinaldos examines Spanish Christmas customs

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By Carol A. Clark

Virginia (Ginny) Nylander Ebinger has authored a new book about Christmas customs, food and music of the 19 Spanish speaking countries in the Americas as well as those of New Mexico called “Aguinaldos.”

“It’s a big pretty book for Christmas,” said the longtime Los Alamos music teacher. “I started writing a small piece about little known Christmas music, then began writing about the Spanish speaking countries in the Americas and it just grew to include customs and food.”

Ebinger spent three years writing her 280-page, well-researched book, which details a wealth of Christmas music, much of it unknown to North Americans, with tunes and guitar chords, words and translations.

The book also contains recipes from each country for holiday foods, ranging from simple beverages to complex tamales and desserts. Customs and traditions from each of the countries in the book include some common to all, others specific to place, with all reflecting the joys of Christmas.

Ebinger moved to Los Alamos in 1954 from Tucumcari.

“I was a young teacher looking for a job and Los Alamos seemed like a nice place to be,” she said.

Ebinger met her future husband Gene Ebinger here. He had moved from Minnesota to Los Alamos following his service in the Army.

“I think he was in search of sunshine,” she said.

Gene Ebinger served Los Alamos Public Schools for 33 years as principal at Barranca Mesa and Aspen elementary schools. She taught music at Aspen, Mountain and the former Canyon, Central, Mesa and Cumbres schools. The couple retired to Albuquerque last December.

“We raised four children here and it was a wonderful place to live,” Ebinger said.

Eldest son Michael, 50, is an environmental chemist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, John, 48, plays bass with the Phoenix Symphony.

Annie, 46, is a recreation manager for the forest service. She lives in Santa Fe and works in Española.

The Ebingers’ youngest daughter, Mary, 43, serves as a domestic abuse victim’s assistant for the police department in Rio Rancho.

Ebinger spent many years volunteering with the Los Alamos Historical Society, Mesa Public Library and other organizations. She also is a retired teacher trainer, researcher, and author, with special interest in the Hispanic folklore of New Mexico.

Among her other publications are “Ninez: Spanish Songs, Games and Stories of Childhood” and “De Colores.”

“Aguinaldos” includes an index, glossary, and extensive bibliography that makes it a valuable resource for readers of all interests.

The book is published by Sunstone Press and should soon be available locally at Otowi Bookstore and at the Historical Society.