December is an ideal time to visit Oaxaca, Mexico and observe how the winter holiday season is celebrated.
The Instituto Cultural Oaxaca engages with all of the celebrations relating to the Christmas period during our specialized Christmas program. Our students are invited to participate in a traditional posada, a piñata making workshop and the creation of a nativity scene. The night of the Institute’s posada, families, students and friends are invited to sing songs, drink punch and break the piñatas created by the students in the piñata workshop.
From the first days of December, Oaxacans create reproductions of the nativity scenes, crated from clay or porcelain. The nativity scenes are seen in gardens, houses, museums, restaurants, and public buildings.
Different Catholic congregations celebrate their faith in the three most important religious figures: the Virgin of Juquila, the Virgin of Guadalupe, and Our Lady of La Soledad. The first is celebrated on December 8, the second on December 12, and the third on December 18.
On December 16th, Mexico begins a nine-day celebration known as "Las Posadas", an important tradition for many Catholic Mexicans. These posadas represent the pilgrimage of Joseph and Mary in the city of Bethlehem as they tried to find lodgings on the night of Jesus’ birth.
One of the most original and interesting festivals in Oaxaca is the Noche de los Rábanos (Night of the Radishes), which takes place on December 23. On this date, the Zócalo is converted into a vast workshop, where artisans from all over the state gather to create amazing scenes out of common vegetables such as radishes. These are used to form nativity scenes and images from daily life.
On the night of December 24, various Catholic churches in Oaxaca organize parades through the streets of the city. These calendas reenact the birth of Christ. Artisans create tall bamboo lanterns and the night sky is lit with fireworks.
Special Christmas Workshops
The Afternoon workshops offered during this time are centered around the Posada.
Christmas & Piñata Making Workshop: During this workshop, through a series of lectures, you will learn about the Christmas traditions in Oaxaca, and the history of the piñatas. In the second week of the workshop, your group will build and design your own piñatas which will later be broken at the Posada. Apart from designing and creating piñatas, you also help set up the nativity scene in the ICO.
Cooking Workshop: This class differs from the normal cooking class offered at the Instituto because you will learn to make traditional dishes that are specific to the winter holiday. Dishes typical to this holiday are romeritos and ponche (fruit punch).