Noche de los Rabanos (Night of the Radishes)

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Oaxaca has a Christmas tradition of displaying nacimientos and other Oaxacan culture in rabanos (radishes). See this video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i0IydQaF8dQ

In addition to displays with radishes, including other vegetables (broccoli, corn, onions, cilantro, etc.), participants in this exhibition and competition also enter corn husk and dried flower categories.

In a creative writing class, I have students write pieces with sidewalk chalk, pieces that are nonetheless beautiful and moving despite the fact that they are temporary. This event — where people were still working on the pieces that same day and spraying what they already had assembled with water to keep it fresh — reminds me of how much care people put into making things beautiful, even if it is just in passing.

And some, like the corn husk display of the little girls (that is not as temporary as the fresh foods) took more than a year to complete.

I feel grateful to:
have witnessed one of Oaxaca’s great celebrations;
have talked with some of Oaxaca’s talented artists;
have enough knowledge of the culture to know the buildings, celebrations, people, and traditions the artisans so carefully depicted.

Which one is my favorite? The one with the tiny xylophone that makes me think of the dancers on the Zocalo; the jaripeo (rodeo) with the stand full of people that reminds me of the rainy afternoon I attended my first rodeo in Teotitlan del Valle in September; the tribute to anime that reminds me of the anime club back home; the one of Frida Kahlo with wings, the only one with words out of radishes; the one that depicts the Virgen of Soledad because it reminds me of the calendar I have with her image; the stadium of girls made of corn husks; the ones full of color and motion; the whole great display, each piece from the most polished to the infantile (children’s) division, and the bright scent of vegetables drying in the warm winter sky.

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