Night of the Radishes
The Night of the Radishes (Spanish: Noche de rábanos) is celebrated every year on December 23 and it began in 1897 in the “zócalo” (main plaza) of Oaxaca city. Although it lasts only a few hours, it attracts thousands of people to this plaza each year.
It is one of the most impressive vegetable festivals around the world. Mexican craftsmen carve giant root vegetables into human figures and other vivid forms.
Although the competition last only for few hours, the celebrations do not end on December 23. The festival continues on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with other joyful activities like float parades, fireworks displays and street dances.
The event consists of an exhibition of sculptures made from a type of large red radish which can weigh up to 3.00 kilograms (6.61 lb) and attain lengths up to 50 centimetres (20 in). These radishes are especially grown for this event, left in the ground for months after the normal harvests to let them attain their giant size and unusual shapes.
The sculptures are made by professional craftsmen and aficionados, who are mostly radish growers. Themes include complete nativity scenes, party scenes with dozens of figures, Baile Folklorico, models of real buildings built with much detail, and saints. The sculpted scenes include other materials such as dried flowers and corn husks but what makes a sculpture stand out is the creative cutting of the radish itself for effect, such as carefully peeling the red skin back and perforating it to create a lace skirt. A contest is held with the first-prize winner getting their picture in the newspaper.
The radish made its way to Mexico in the 16th century.
Mexico was under the rule of Spain during that period and the country had several key ports where food is being traded internally through Galleons or wooden ships.
The local market vendors were the ones who used carved radishes to invite people inside their stores.
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