Night of the Radishes


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Night of the Radishes

December 23
Night of the Radishes is a festival that dates from the 19th century that combines art, agriculture, and religion. It is held in the zócalo, or main square, in Oaxaca, Mexico, 300 miles south of Mexico City. The radish made its first appearance here during the Spanish colonial period, and in commemoration Oaxaqueños carve them into elaborate shapes and display them on La Noche de Ratanos . The radishes, the same red-skinned, white-fleshed roots commonly eaten in salads, grow to yam-size here and are each uniquely shaped by growing through the rocky soil.
Indian families harvest these vegetables, combine and sculpt them into elaborate forms depicting biblical scenes, especially the nativity of Jesus. Historical and Aztec themes are also represented. After the awarding of cash prizes and ribbons, a fireworks display caps the night.
During the festival and throughout the Christmas season, another custom is observed: people buy small pottery bowls filled with sweet fried dough called buñuelos. After they eat the dough, they fling the bowl violently to the ground. The walks become thick with pottery shards.
CONTACTS:
Mexico Tourism Board
21 E. 63rd St., Fl. 3
New York, NY 10021
800-446-3942 or 212-821-0314; fax: 212-821-0367
www.visitmexico.com
SOURCES:
BkHolWrld-1986, Dec 23
IntlThFolk-1979, p. 274
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