Christmas Traditions in Oaxaca

Mexico has many interesting festivals that occur in different parts of the country.  Over Christmas we were able to witness one of these – the Night of the Radishes (la Noche de los Rábanos) in Oaxaca.  In California, there are garlic festivals and asparagus festivals, so should a radish festival be that unusual?  Well, in Mexico, they don´t make food out of the vegetable (like garlic ice cream), instead they carve the radishes.

The Mexican artisans are definitely put to the task making elaborate figures and churches, depictions of historical events, and even nativity scenes out of the radishes.  Now, the radishes they carve aren´t your garden variety small radishes.  They are grown specifically for this event.  Days before the competition, the radishes are harvested and sculpted into works of art.  We have included pictures of some of these masterpieces, such as Frida Kahlo in radishes, a church and a nativity scene.  Every December 23rd since 1897, the zócalo in Oaxaca comes alive with stalls of artisans making these radish sculptures.  By early evening, the lines of people wanting to see these displays are blocks long.  The winner of the competition receives a prize and is featured in the local paper the next day.

Besides this unique festival, we also watched the Christmas parade, which happens on December 24th, where locals walk to the zócalo carrying torches and following bands and floats from their churches.  This event was a cacophony of sounds and sights, as fireworks exploded and enormous paper mache figures danced in the streets.

Beyond these Christmas events, there is plenty to see in and around Oaxaca.  We had a chance to visit two archeological sites – Monte Albán, which is truly impressive given that only about 10% of the site has been unearthed, and Mitla, whose structures have unusual geometric designs carved on them.  There are also many artisan communities where one can buy black clay pottery, textiles, rugs and alebrijes (carved fanciful animals).  We did come home with a new geometric rug woven using natural dyes.


Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: