Christmas in Oaxaca
In Oaxaca, December is a month in which the opportunities to celebrate abound.
The Posadas which are representations of Mary and Joseph’s pilgrimage to Bethlehem, where after being turned away many times they finally find a place to rest in a stable where Jesus is born in a manger.
The Posadas are celebrated on 9 consecutive nights starting on the 16th of December. They are celebrated by groups of families and neighbors who form a procession which goes out to look for a posada (a place that will receive guests) for the holy family.
This procession goes from the church or the house where the pilgrims rested the night before to the house where they will be given posada on that night and where they are received with punch and piñata, a decorated clay pot which is full of fruit and candies and is broken by the children who scramble madly for a share of the goodies.
Another celebration is the Calendas, these are religious processions, generally in the evenings, in which the people carry lamps, flower baskets accompanied by sky rockets and giant figures made of paper and cloth which dance to the sound of a brass band and followed or proceeded by an allegorical float.
These calendas are not only for Christmas celebrations, they also announce the festivities and are celebrated trough December followed by the grand night of calendas on the 24th in the Zócalo where the calendas of all the neighborhoods gather and circle the square and then return to their respective churches to celebrate the Midnight Mass or Misa de Gallo.
The so called Night of the Radishes or Noche de Rábanos is another unique manifestation of Oaxacan culture and Christmas Spirit.
It is celebrated on de 23rd of December in the Zócalo which is converted into a stage for the exhibit of figurines made from radishes.
These figurines take on all shapes from comical and ironic to grotesque and bizarre.
The festivities does not end here, the 6th of January is celebrated as the Day of the Three Kings of the Orient who came to venerate Jesus with gifts and this has been converted into a tradition in México in which all of the children receive gifts also to share a special cake in the form of a ring (Rosca) in which small figures of Jesus are hidden.
The person who gets one of these figures has to make a party and the 2nd of February, the day of the Candle Mass which is the end of the Christmas Holidays.