Night of the Radishes
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Noche de rábanos
The Night of the Radishes (Spanish: Noche de rábanos) is celebrated every year on December 23 and it began in 1897 in the “zócalo” (main plaza) of Oaxaca city. Although it lasts only a few hours, it attracts thousands of people to this plaza each year.

The event consists of an exhibition of sculptures made from a type of large red radish which can weigh up to 3.00 kilograms (6.6 lb) and attain lengths up to 50 centimetres (20 in).[1] These radishes are especially grown for this event, left in the ground for months after the normal harvests to let them attain their giant size and unusual shapes.

The sculptures are made by professional craftsmen and aficionados, who are mostly radish growers. Themes include complete nativity scenes, party scenes with dozens of figures, Baile Folklorico, models of real buildings built with much detail, and saints.[1] The sculpted scenes include other materials such as dried flowers and corn husks but what makes a sculpture stand out is the creative cutting of the radish itself for effect, such as carefully peeling the red skin back and perforating it to create a lace skirt. A contest is held with the first-prize winner getting their picture in the newspaper.[1]

CODICES-A LECTURE BY LINDA MARTIN – All photos by Alan L. Goodin



Wednesday, January 16th at 5 pm. Cost: $100 pesosOaxaca Lending Library and Monday, February 25 – 5 pm – $100 pesos. Oaxaca Lending Library, Pino Suárez 519.

Photo by Alan Goodin

Photo by Alan Goodin

BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND—a fun, informative and illustrated talk to learn about Oaxaca before Cortez. Lord 8 Deer and Lady 6 Monkey. Sacred hallucinogenic plants: the Zapotec’s express route to the gods. Codex images in Oaxaca graffiti, Frida, Tamayo, Toledo and Disney. Antiquity, with a zany modern touch.
All Photos by Alan L. Goodin

Home for Sale, Casa Loma Linda, located in Oaxaca City

Casa Loma Linda

Furnished house and bungalow with stunning panoramic vistas: Opportunity!
Located in the northern part of the city, we offer you this magnificent property with fully furnished house and bungalow, garden and spectacular vistas over the Sierra Norte, San Felipe and the whole city. Only a few minutes from the center of the city this precious house has easy access to all services (infrastructure) such as schools, university (faculty of medicine), shopping centers and sports facilities.
The property has 428 square meters on which are the main house, bungalow, garden and parking facility for 2 cars. The main house consists of 160 square meters.
The downstairs floor includes a terrace with views over the garden, a big kitchen, which is fully equipped, dining area, two furnished bedrooms, and a fully equipped bathroom. There is also a small room that can be used as an office space or small bedroom.
On the first floor you find the master bedroom with its own bathroom and the living room, as well as a beautiful terrace that offers spectacular views over mountains and city.
The bungalow also offers the same panoramic views from its dining and living room. It has two bedrooms, one on the ground floor and one on the first floor and a complete bathroom.
The property is equipped with a water cistern for 15,000l and two water tanks: 2400 l on the main house and 1100l on the bungalow. Both buildings contain stationary gas tanks with capacities of 175l of gas each. They are equipped with a phone landline and internet connection. Cable tv, satellite etc. are available.
The house and bungalow could serve as a family home as well as a vacation rental with two units (house and bungalow) that are rentable separately with independent access, thus offer income generating opportunities for investors.
A wonderful property and a great opportunity to invest in a secure and quiet neighborhood close to the center of Oaxaca City and with all services at hand. Please find more information and pictures about this beautiful property on: Contact: Posted Dec 2012

DAY OF THE DEAD – OAXACA, MEXICO – 2012. All photos, Alan L. Goodin

Day of the Dead – Oaxaca, Mexico – 2012

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Día de los Muertos

Día de los Muertos is on November 2nd, with celebrations beginning on November 1, Día de Muertos Chiquitos–The Day of the Little Dead also All Saints Day, and continuing on November 2, All Souls Day. It is a joyous occasion when the memory of ancestors and the continuity of life is celebrated. It is believed that at this time the souls of the departed return to visit the living. It is not a time of mourning since “the path back to the living world must not be made slippery by tears”. Its roots are in ancient Mexico but it is celebrated in many North, Central, and South American countries. It is a mixture of indigenous and Catholic traditions and includes gathering at cemeteries for the cleaning and decoration of the grave sites and socializing. The manner of celebration varies regionally with folkloric traditions being particularly strong in Oaxaca where there is a substantial indigenous population.

El Día de Los Muertos originated in Mexico, before the Spanish conquest. The exact date is unknown but it has been speculated that the idea originated with the Olmecs, possibly as long as 3000 years ago. This concept was passed to other cultures such as the Toltecs, Maya, Zapotec, Mixtec and Aztecs. Zapotec and Mixtec influence are strong in Oaxaca, see Linguistic map. The Aztec celebration was held during the Aztec month of Miccailhuitontli, presided over by the goddess Mictecacihuatl Lady of the Dead, and dedicated to children and the dead. Following the Spanish conquest of Mexico during the 16th century, there was a strong effort to convert the native population to Catholicism. There was a good deal of reluctance on the part of the indigenous people which resulted in a blending of old customs with the new religion. All Saints’ Day and All Hallows Eve (Halloween) roughly coincided with the preexisting Día de Los Muertos resulting in the present day event which draws from both. This “compromise” was necessary both to preserve church membership and to satisfy church authorities that progress was being made in converting the indigenous to Catholicism. Although the skeleton is a strong symbol for both Halloween and los Días de Los Muertos, the meaning is very different. For Días de Los Muertos the skeleton represents the dead playfully mimicking the living and is not a macabre symbol at all.

Preparation begins weeks in advance when statues, candies, breads and other items to please the departed are sold in markets. A sweet bread, pan de muerto, with decorations representing bones of the deceased is very popular as are sugar skulls. [see recipe for sugar skulls] All sorts of art objects and toys which symbolically represent death in some way are created and marketed. This gives the economy a boost in much the same way as our Christmas season does. Alters ofrecetas are set up in the home with offerings of sweets and the favorite foods and beverages of the deceased. These offerings may later be given away or consumed by the living after their essence has been enjoyed by the dead. Marigolds are the traditional decorative flower and copal is the traditional incense made from the resin of the copal tree.

The particulars of the celebration vary widely by region in Mexico. On November 1, Día de Muertos Chiquitos, the departed children are remembered. The evening is sometimes called la Noche de Duelo, The Night of Mourning, marked by a candlelight procession to the cemetery. On November 2, Día de los Muertos, the spirits of the dead return. Entire families visit the graves of their ancestors, bringing favorite foods and alcoholic beverages as offerings to the deceased as well as a picnic lunch for themselves. They spend the day cleaning and decorating the grave sites and visiting with each other and other families. Traditionally there is a feast in the early morning hours of November 2nd although many now celebrate with an evening meal. There are sugar skulls and toys for the children, emphasizing early on that death is a positive part of the life cycle. It is a happy occasion for remembering pleasant times with departed family members.

For more photos, see Gina’s Day of the Dead Tour
and Michelle Mengel’s photos of Día de los Muertos in Oaxaca City.


alabanza – a Catholic hymn of praise
los angelitos – Young children who have died too soon to have sinned and go straight to heaven
calaca – the Grim Reaper, a skeletal figure representing death
calavera – the skull or skeleton, which symbolically represents the dead playfully mimicking the living on the Day of the Dead. Sugar skulls are sold in great numbers during the celebration, often personalized with a name. It is believed that the dead like sweets.
calaverada – madcap escapade, tomfoolery; wild behavior
cempazuchitl or cempazúchil – Nabuafi language name for yellow marigold, symbolizing death
Chichihuacuahco – destination of the souls of children, the “wet-Nurse tree”.
Día de Muertos Chiquitos – The Day of the Little Dead, occurring on November 1, All Souls Day
El Día de Difuntos – also means Dia de los Muertos
hojaldra – a sweet bread made for los Días de los Muertos.
Hueymiccailhuitl – The 10thAztec month (20 days) in which deceased adults were honored following Miccailhuitontli
Iztcuintle – a small dog to serve as a guide and companion of the dead
Miccailhuitontli – The 9th Aztec month (20-days) in which rituals were performed honoring the deceased children, around July-August
Mictecacihuatl – The Aztec goddess of the dead
Mictlan – destination of the soul after death, the region of silence and repose, also known as the place of the fleshless
la Noche de Duelo – ‘The Night of Mourning.’ Begins El Día de los Muertos with a candlelight procession to the cemetery
ofrenda – an alter in the home with offerings of food, etc. set out for the returning souls. The dead partake of these gifts and the living consume them afterwards.
pan de muerto – the bread of the dead, a sweet bread baked expressly for the Days of the Dead holiday; decorations on top of the bread resemble the bones of the dead.
Quecholli – The 14th Aztec month during which deceased warriors were honored
rosquete – a sweet bread made for los Días de los Muertos.
Tlalocan – destination of the souls of those who died due to earthquake or drowning, paradise of Tlaloc, the water keeper.
Tonatiuh ilhuicatl – destination of the souls of warriors, the dwelling place of the sun

Courtesy of TomZap (Google Tomzap)


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The photos, taken by Alan Goodin, are just the beginning of one part of the celebration, the painting of walls, throughout Oaxaca.

THE DAYS OF THE DEAD-A Mexican Tradition

In Mexico, the ceremonies performed on the Days of the Dead aquire great significance at the beginning of November each year. All the preparations for the elaborate festivities are done in advance, in the month of October or even earlier. During these traditional celebrations, family ties become stronger and socioeconomic relation ships are notably enhanced in the community at large and the family nucleus in particular.

Beatriz M. Oliver V., from The Days of the Dead. GV editores, 1996.

ON THE ROAD to Santa Maria Atzompa

Santa Maria Atzompa 

Oaxaca brings visitors many joys.  Besides centuries of history, culture, colorful people and almost year round perfect weather are the memories and magic found in the various mercados.  During your stay you may see handmade clothing and natural paper, tasty pastries, red and green salsas and gastronomic delights, colonial buildings, hand crafted gold, silver and other jewelry and in most shops, locally crafted pottery.  Much of the pottery comes from San Bartolo Coyotepec and is easily distinguished by it’s black color.  But the green pottery and crockery known as “auténtico Oaxacana,” is designed, created, and sold in Santa Maria Atzompa, only 9 km from the Zócalo.

Señor Mario Enrique Lopez, the fundador del Mercado de Artesanias,” says, “Pottery making started in the area in 1686, but we began our mercado in October 1988 when 12 artesanos and myself began a small workshop (taller).  We now employ over 90 people.”  The internationally famous “Mercado de Artesanias” has won awards in Houston, Mc Allen and Laredo, Texas and is open 365 days a year from 9 AM until 8 pm.  I asked Señor Mario’s sister, Señora Enedina Enrique when they were open.  With a serious smile she replied, “We never close.”

On days when Señor Mario is not too busy he will take you to his taller and show you step-by-step how the green ceramics, plates, bowls, vases and cups, are made.  If you can’t find what you are looking for, ask!  He will get it for you.

Standing in his workshop he will turn and point north across a small valley to las lomas above the Rio Atoyac where he gathers the material used to make his pottery.  At his taller the earthen material is pulverized, sifted into a fine material that is washed and strained.  This makes the barro (mud) that is used by his daughter, Rosita, her family and friends, who roll it into large cigar shaped dough, like fat tortillas.  The barro is then flattened out on large disks of different sizes to match the size of the article being created on potter’s wheels.

On the potter’s wheel, the barro is formed into the various sizes and shapes that make the many art objects (earthenware), seen every day in the Mercado, but probably best visited either Tuesday or Friday, market day in Atzompa.

This is also a good time to visit the zócalo and market located only a few blocks up calle Independencia, next to the Santa Maria Church, la patrona de Atzompa.  Many of the artists display their fine pottery on calle Independencia between el mercado and el zócalo.  But there are shops everywhere and you may find that ‘just right’ gift by merely wandering in and out of the many shops.  On calle Independencia you see the residents and artist of Atzompa bringing their art to town in baskets, wheelbarrows, cars and trucks and sometimes on their heads.  By afternoon the street is awash with their multicolored, hand-crafted creations

Once the barro is formed into plates, fruit bowls (fruteros), flower vases (floreros), crosses, picture frames or what ever you might desire (if you have time to return), the pieces are then sun dried for 8 hours, fired and painted.  While green (verde) is a primary color (auténtico Oaxacana), many of the bowls all the colors of the rainbow and are used on the more ornamental hand crafted vases, picture frames, figurines, yellow suns and silvery moons that adorn the many walls and shelves in the booths organized by each artist as a combined group of art by the artists that make the Mercado de Artesanias.

Allow yourself 3 hours for this trip, if your plan includes visiting a taller.  Otherwise 2 hours if you are only shopping and having a snack.  Eating of just have a snack at El Patio de Atzompa Restaurante in the “Mercado de Artesanias” will be a wonderful way to end your trip.  Meals are good and inexpensive.  Wear your sombrero, bring a shopping bag, enjoy the ride and eat regional foods such as Mole Negro con pollo y arroz, Tlayuda untada de aciento y frijol con aguacate, tomate y queso, tasajo, cecina enchiladas, o Chorizo or Sopas Zapoteca: tiras de tortilla dorado, Consomé Xóchitl o Crema de champinones and a cold beverage in the shade at El Patio de Atzompa in the “Mercado de Artesanias.” 

Santa Maria Atzompa can be reached by taxi from most anywhere in Oaxaca.  Atzompa is on the same road that goes to Monte Alban and seeing both in one day would make for a well-rounded and pleasurable trip.   Negotiate the taxi price before going and ask the driver to return and pick you up.  The bus trip from the secondary bus station to Atzompa is only 25 pesos.  Enjoy!

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Photographs: Senor Mario Enrique Lopez, Sr Lopez daughter Rosita at her pottery wheel, pottery from “Mercado de Artesanias,” Pottery “autentico Oaxaca” on Calle Independencia, Santa Maria scene behind the iglesia Santa Maria Atzompa.