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UPDATE: photos from Christmas 2000 - click here

I'm Dreaming of a Wierd Christmas

yes, they are radishes

"Noche de los Rabanos" proclaimed the posters hung around Oaxaca, our favorite Mexican City the day before Christmas Eve. "Night of the Radishes" wasn't really self-explanatory, but the explanation, "it's when people display their radish sculptures" didn't really clear things up.

Flowers and such carved from vegetable are ornamental I guess, but I couldn't imagine how many radish flowers it would take to fill up the large tables ringing the town square.

My family had a vegetable garden with radishes and I've even been to my share of 4-H displays at the Kansas State Fair, but nothing had prepared me for these radishes. I think of radishes as being the size of cherry tomatoes, maybe even a ping pong ball, but these were as thick as a two liter bottle of water and as tall as your cocker spaniel!

we three radish kingsThere were whole nativity scenes, camels, caves and all, delicately carved from these monstrous radishes. There were also elaborate creations from straw and others from "eternal" (dried) flowers, but the radishes were definitely the stars of the evening.

If you're as curious as how a tradition developed of carving one's best radishes into crèches, we discovered that it dates back to the big market day when people were grocery shopping for their Christmas Eve dinners. To advertise the quality of their produce, merchants would create displays highlighting their best. Someone decided to give prizes to the best displays. I guess the radishes proved to be the superior material. And "Noche de Rabanos" was born.

click for larger view
click for larger version

That's how we spent our one and only lonely Mexican Christmas (i.e.: without other family) -- pretending we were Mexican tourists.

This year we're alone, but we won't be lonely because we're going to "adopt" some teenage friends whose parents had to move too far away for them to get together. Maybe we'll discover some more interesting traditions. We'll let you know.

[UPDATE 12/25/2000: see photos from our Christmas with the boys - CLICK HERE]

Hope your holidays are JOYFUL!

Merry Christmas

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