Radishes are not just for eating: Oaxaca Radish Festival

With tongue-in-cheek, National Public Radio retorts, Survived The Mayan Apocalypse? Here Come the Radish People.   In three days on December 23 and just in time for Christmas, Oaxaqueños and visitors from throughout Mexico and the world will queue up around Oaxaca’s Zocalo for the annual ritual of the Radish Festival.  If you are in town, don’t miss it!


Crowds are huge and often fifteen or twenty people deep to get sightings of giant radishes carved into still life sculpture that depict nativity scenes and the themes of village life.  The spectacle officially begins at sundown, but my “trick” is to get there in early to mid-afternoon so I can get a closer and unobstructed view.


There’s even a section for a children’s carving lesson during the afternoon.  It’s fun to watch the kids put their hand to this craft. DSCN4536

You might ask, do radishes really grow this BIG?  Gosh, yes.  The farmers in Ocotlan, where these special radishes are grown, have cultivated a variety that are dense with a ruby-red skin and carve up beautifully.  Oaxaca is known for her crafts and why not carved radishes, that now join the ranks of alebrijes as a folk art.


Radishes as cathedrals, stepping stones, horse-pulled carts, dancers and musicians.  They are kept fresh with regular mists of water.

I took these photos in 2007 with a really crummy point-and-shoot camera but you get the gist.  This Christmas I’m in North Carolina staying toasty warm in front of the wood stove listening to my husband practicing his cello, reminiscing about Oaxaca.

Warmest wishes for the holidays and a joyous, healthy, content and peaceful  new year.

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