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The 12 Trips of Christmas: Noche de Rabanos

If you're looking for a truly unique Christmas experience, head to Oaxaca, Mexico, where you'll find the world’s biggest and most intricate vegetable festival: Noche de Rábanos or Night of the Radishes. This is where humble radishes are turned into beautiful sculptures depicting holiday themes and favorite activities. Details, such as lace carved from the outer layers of radishes, are meticulously agonized over until the first few spectators arrive. This fiber-intensive festival kicks off a Christmas-long celebration in Oaxaca that features parades, fireworks and street dances.

The radishes that are used for the sculptures are quite different from what we are used to in the states. They weigh nearly seven pounds and reach 20 inches in length. Artisans only have a few hours to put their masterpieces together before the festival, which starts late in the afternoon on December 23rd and lasts all night. Radishes perish quickly,so to keep the sculptures crisp and beautiful, they are created by multiple artisans hours in advance and then sprayed with cool water throughout the festival. If you fall in love with one of the sculptures, you may be able to buy it and use it as a one time center piece for the table.  

Craftsmen in Mexico have been carving radishes into intricate figures and scenes since the first few Spanish ships landed in South America; however it wasn’t until 1897 when the mayor of Oaxaca established an official festival to showcase the perishable works of art. Now, every year on December 23rd, dozens of artisans set up shop and carve scenes depicting Christmas, such as nativity scenes, crucifixes,saints, Christmas parties and other secular themes.

Photo courtesy of: Pond 5.

December 23, 2014

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