THE MOST RAD CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL IN MEXICO
Featuring thousands of radishes, this unique folk art festival happens every year in Oaxaca on 23 December.
For this year's festive season, each day until Christmas we bring you 12 Facts of Christmas. Here's Day Ten.
Carving faces into vegetables is typically an activity associated with pumpkins at Halloween, but there’s no reason why craftsmanship of this kind could not be extended to other parts of the year, as the residents of Oaxaca, Mexico have been demonstrating for years.
Every year on 23 December they celebrate the Night of the Radishes (Noche de los Rabanos), an annual display of elaborate scenes expertly crafted out of hundreds of the red-and-white vegetables.
The radishes are grown specifically for this purpose—they are left in the ground for longer than harvest time, resulting in large specimens with a tough skin, inedible but perfectly suitable for carving.
The tradition is more than a century old, and the story goes that it started out with local produce growers trying to attract the attention of customers at the town square markets. People were enchanted by the radish sculptures and even started buying the more elaborate ones as Christmas table decor.
In 1897 the mayor of Oaxaca declared these efforts an official festival, and the annual exhibition has been going strong ever since.
These days hundreds of people queue in the town plaza to see the creations, and the best carving even gets a cash prize.
PHOTOS: Oaxaca's radish festival in 2007; Tom Lafaver, Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0