Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Night of the Radishes

Mexico is loaded with strange and wonderful festivals, but one of the strangest I ever did see was on a night in Oaxaca two days before Christmas. This night is known as the Noche de Rabanos or, "Night of the Radishes". Centuries old this folk festival is said to have been inspired by a local friar as a marketing gimmick to encourage people to buy produce at market. In the late 19th century it became an annual celebration that, for a few misty hours on the late afternoon and evening of December 23rd, occupies central square in Oaxaca City.

On December 18th freshly harvested monster radishes produced especially for this festival are turned over to a select group of artisans who set to work carving fantastic scenes entirely out of a collection of otherwise under-appreciated vegetables. Line ups are long and security is stiff to get in to admire this unusual art form.

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