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Noche de Rabanos (Night of Radishes) 2016

Noche de Rabanos (Night of Radishes) is a splendid one day creative extravaganza unique to the city of Oaxaca. Imaginative people from around the state have been working on designs for many months, and on December 23 they display their artwork for the enjoyment and amazement of thousands of onlookers, plus they have a chance to win a prize!
Click on any image to enlarge or see a slide show.


Photo by Rick

We begin our day by eating breakfast in one of the outdoor restaurants that surround the zócalo, the main plaza of Oaxaca where the event takes place. We enjoy watching people construct and put the finishing touches to their depictions of daily life, history, religion, and culture. Some of the radish carvings are done at the last minute!   Every tiny piece of the work must be of natural materials – no wire or plastic – and most of the radish figures are held together with toothpicks.

There are three categories of materials: specially grown giant rabanos (radishes), flor inmortal (looks like what I know as straw flowers), and totomoxtle, or corn husks.

Some photos show entire displays so you can see how elaborate they are, and some are of small sections to show the incredible detail. Photographer friend Rick Impett contributed some excellent photos – thanks, Rick!



Photo by Rick










Photo by Rick

Living lives surrounded with artisans creating textiles, carvings, metalwork, pottery, painting, music and dancing, children of Oaxaca learn to become artists, musicians and craftspeople at a very young age. It’s wonderful to see!




Night of the Radishes – Part II

Artisans compete for cash prizes in three categories: radishes, dried flowers (flor inmortal), and corn husks (totomoxtle). I didn’t see the judges choices, but these were my favorites. Click on a thumbnail size to see the photos as a slide show.

Exotic Radish Creature!

Exotic Radish Creature!


Lovely Lady of Dried Flowers

Lovely Lady of Dried Flowers

Corn Husk Couple to Be

Corn Husk Couple to Be

Astounding Replica of an Entire 261 Member Children's Band!

Astounding Replica of an Entire 261 Member Children’s Band!

Night of the Radishes

Unique…Outrageous…Fascinating…What word exists that can describe the carvings and sculptures on display during La Noche de Rábanos, or the Night of Radishes? This event is held in the zócalo of Oaxaca every December 23. Display booths ring the zócalo, and a raised walkway is constructed to provide easy viewing by the thousands of people who marvel at the figures and entire scenes created with giant radishes.

Spanish colonists brought radishes to Mexico in the late 1500’s, and the monks encouraged the local people to grow them. According to historical record, a monk suggested that the farmers carve the radishes into imaginative shapes to decorate their market stalls as a way to attract attention to the new vegetable and increase sales. His idea was apparently successful because three centuries later in 1897, Oaxaca mayor Francisco Vasconcelos Flores organized the first Noche de Rábanos in the zócalo. The celebration has been held every year since.

These are not your everyday supermarket radishes. They are an elongated variety that can grow up to 2 feet long and weigh 10 pounds! But don’t put them in your salad, as they are heavily fertilized and treated with chemicals! Most of the radishes are cultivated in an outlying area of the city, but I was told that some farmers raise their own.

The artist’s imagination is the only limitation, as there is no general theme. Scenes can depict religious celebrations, markets, carnivals, and family life, or figures can be purely exotic creatures.

Artisans compete for cash prizes in three categories: radishes, dried flowers (flor inmortal), and corn husks (totomoxtle).

We walked to the zócalo early (8:30 a.m.) so that we could watch people finishing the carvings and assembling their displays. This was a good time to take pictures because there were no crowds. By noon hundreds of people were strolling on the walkway, admiring and photographing the delightful carvings. By evening there were thousands. The orderly line moved slowly along the raised walkway, and everyone had a good view of the displays, but I am so glad we went early.

As it seems with all Mexican festivals, the level of activity is almost overwhelming, and everyone has a great time.

(Click on thumbnails for larger views.)

Mask of  Radishes

Mask of Radishes



Hand Building Pots

Hand Building Pots


Let the Radish Be Your Guide

Let the Radish Be Your Guide




Family Dinner

Family Dinner





Carving Classes for Children

Carving Classes for Children

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Carving and Assembling Requires Concentration!

Carving and Assembling Requires Concentration!

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Photos of the dried flowers and corn husk displays will be in another post.

I hope you enjoyed these fascinating carvings and the people who created them!

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