We talked about novel Christmas celebrations in South America last week. Now let’s look a bit farther north. On her website, Irene of My Slice of Mexico provides information about a Oaxacan tradition you will want to hear about, Night of the Radishes!
There were no radishes in Mexico until the Spanish brought them over in the 1500s. The Spanish friars began to grow them. Legend has it than in the mid-1800s, the harvest was so plentiful that a good number of radishes were left in the ground. They continued to grow into strange and humorous shapes. Many were two feet long and weighed several pounds. When they were dug up, they were brought to the Christmas craft fair as a novelty and carved into religious figures and scenes from the Bible by vendors trying to attract attention to their booths.
In 1897, Mayor Francisco Vasconcelos Flores made Noche de rábano, Night of the Radishes an annual event. For decades, the government of Oaxaca has grown a field of highly fertilized extra large radishes for the yearly competition. Artisans of the Christmas market on the main square have a few days to plan, then carve them into wonderful sculptures. In past years, over 100 people participated in the competition, both adults and children. Unfortunately, this year the event was not held due to the pandemic.
Here are a few entries from contestants in 2014. We’ll start with two of the Patron Saint of Oaxaca:
I’ve never traveled to Oaxaca. I’d heard of the impressive crafts and food culture, and this is the final enticement. Now I must see the Noche de rábanos! Gracias to Irene for introducing me to this fantastic tradition!
Which sculpture did you like best?
Long live vegetables and ¡Viva México! ¡Olé! –Rebecca