Let’s face it, radishes are not everyone’s first choice of vegetable. It’s definitely not one of mine. Yet, Noche de Rábanos, or night of the radishes in English, is a Mexican tradition which takes place in the city of Oaxaca each year. It is a festival simply dedicated to carving brilliant sculptures in radishes, which the country loves so much.
Why do this you ask?
It is simply to create wonderful scenes which may be worthy of winning various prizes throughout the day, across a multitude of categories. It is an incredibly memorable, anticipated night, and its origins begin back in the late 1800’s, where the mayor at the time introduced the idea of radish art to the public.
At Christmas, market stalls would be open, selling fruit and veg before midnight mass to keep the public full. To distinguish between each stall and differentiate the items, the vendors began to carve into their radishes. Some beautiful designs, even decorating the radishes with other vegetables such as lettuces.
They became a huge hit with housewives, who wanted to have the most impressive sculpture sat on their table at Christmas. Since that first year, the best sculpture annually is given a cash prize. The festival is held on the 23rd December, just in time for Christmas, and carving begins three days before the festival so the artists can perfect their designs as much as possible.
So, if you’re ever in Mexico at Christmas, try your hand at Noche de Rábanos, and you could be in with the money, whilst experiencing first hand their unique and wonderful tradition.