One + July 2011 - (Page 54)

Night of the Radishes For more than a century, the people of Oaxaca, Mexico, have gathered every December to celebrate something that can spoil quickly: the radish. BY ANDREA GRIMES “OH MY GOSH, THIS PLACE IS SWARMING ON FOURSQUARE!” The exclamation is music to an event planner’s ears and second only, perhaps, to the dulcet tones of Twitter stardom: “Our hashtag is trending!” Still, there’s little in this world more ephemeral than a tweet, and tonight’s swarming hotel bar may be nothing but a fuzzy memory by next weekend. Fleeting 21stcentury social media successes don’t necessarily lend themselves to building great, time-honored traditions. But for more than a century, the people of Oaxaca, Mexico, have gathered every December to celebrate something that can spoil just as quickly as a trendy hashtag: the radish. December 23 is the Noche de Rábanos, a night that brings out thousands of Mexicans and foreign tourists alike to the capital city of Oaxaca de Juarez to view intricate carvings, both secular and religious, made from the root vegetable. In the Mexican state best known for its handicrafts, radish night is an especially celebratory time—a public party, verbena popular. “Oaxaca is the cultural heart and essence of the whole of Mexico,” said local hotelier Sergio A. Bello Guerra, and the Noche de Rábanos brings together all of the things that are important to Oaxacans: family, music, food and religion. The night began in the late 19th century when families would make pilgrimages to attend Oaxaca City’s 54 misa de gallo, or midnight mass, on Christmas Eve. Demand for fresh food to feed the many gathered families was high, and vendors began setting up stalls in the city’s zocalo. Competing for business in the teeming square, the farmers carved figures out of their produce and adorned the sculpted scenes with flowers. To outsiders, the radish may seem to hold a strange place of honor in comparison to the historical importance and geographic beauty of the mountainous state. After all, Oaxaca’s capital city itself and the nearby pre-Columbian archaeological site Monte Alban, which was the capital of the ancient Zapotec empire, are designated UNESCO World Heritage sites. Bello Guerra says it’s common for his intensely proud people to remind outsiders that their state was the birthplace of the progressive statesman Benito Juarez, and Bello Guerra himself calls Oaxaca City “one of the most magical cities in the world.” With so much to brag about, why celebrate a humble radish? Bello Guerra, who is also the vice president of education for the MPI Mexico Chapter, says traditions like radish night are “totally authentic … passed from fathers to sons and [remain] exactly as they were originally.” Radish carvings were how things were done a century ago, so that’s the way they’re done today. In 1897, the Oaxacan mayor made the celebration at the Christmas market one+ 07.11

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of One + July 2011

One + July 2011
Energy of Many
Paradigm Shifts, Part II
Web Watch
Ask the Experts
Recognizing Community and Organizational Excellence
Art of Travel
The Prism Effect
Top Spots
Using New Tech for Old Purposes
So You Think You Can Dance
Don’t Use Tech You Don’t Understand
Are You In It to Win It?
Anything is Possible
Night of the Radishes
Well Played
When People Come Together, Magic Happens
Size Matters
Building a Better FAM
One Bar at a Time
Industry Insights
Your Community
Making a Difference
Until We Meet Again

One + July 2011