"Oaxaca, Mexico: An

Expatriate Life"

Writing by Stan Gotlieb

Pictures by Diana Ricci

Christmas on the Zócalo of Oaxaca: a photo essay

A detail from a creche scene, part of the display on Noche de los Rabanos

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Oaxaca has holiday traditions unlike anywhere else in the world. December is a very festive month, celebrating three saints and culminating in the most unique event of all, the Night of the Radishes (Noche de los Rábanos) on December 23, and the Calendas (religious parades) around the Zócalo on Christmas Eve.



**Click on an image to see enlarged photo**

One of many booths displaying carved radishes. This tradition originated in colonial times, when there was a special Christmas food market. The radishes used are grown specially for this event.
In later years, straw (dried) flowers were added as a juried competition, separate from the radish contest.
The calendas leave from their respective churches and march to the Zócalo accompanied by a band made up of parishioners.
Children participate in the calendas, either marching and singing songs or on floats depicting religious scenes, most often the Nativity.
Monos are covered bamboo frames with paper maché heads. Carried on the shoulders of young men, these large figures dance along with the band as the calenda marches around the Zócalo.

 

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