Everyone around the greater Los Angeles area is getting ready for the holidays. In fact, some entities, such as the Mercado La Paloma and their Annual Art and Cultural Program called Cultural Continuum, have already started planning festivities.

"It's a way to showcase and invite different communities into new communities and new cultures by using art and cultural programming," said Damon Turner, the Art and Cultural Programming Coordinator at Mercado La Paloma. 

Mercado La Paloma, an economic development project of Esperanza Community Housing Corporation, is a leading South Los Angeles non-profit multicultural community arts center.

This year’s Cultural Continuum features a series titled “Celebrating Holidays From Around the World,” which includes five attractive events, starting with the Holiday Marketplace – Mercado Noche de Fiestas Festivas.

It also includes an Art Opening – Apertura de Arte “Natividad de Todo El Mundo”, a unique Cooking Class – Clase de Cocina Chichen Itza, and the Radish Carving Workshop – Taller: Introduccion A Escultura de Rabanos. The Cultural Continuum finalizes with Noche de Rabanos – Radish Carving Festival.

All events are expected to receive a large audience, beginning with the Holiday Marketplace. It is a free event Dec. 9 from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. featuring local vendors, artists and diverse food. The highlight is a set of performances from the Latin Grammy-nominated music group La Santa Cecilia, Japanese drum group from East L.A. Taiko Project, Yuval Ron Ensemble and Garifuna Wanaragua.

The Art Opening, 7-9 p.m. on Dec. 13, serves an exhibit called “Nativity Scenes From Around The World,” curated by Leila Jones. Interestingly enough, this particular art entity has been organized as to illustrate how universal cultures view the story of Jesus Christ’s birth. 

"It's very liberal and diverse," said Turner.

Moreover, the Cooking Class with Chichen Itza’s renowned chef Gilberto Cetina is already stirring a lot of buzz throughout the city. The class is set to inaugurate “Mercado Cooks” while it leads Cetina's tamale-making workshop, which is a Yucatan-inspired banana-wrapped tasty tamale. Tickets for the class are $70 (www.cookingwithchichenitza.eventbrite.com), and the fee also includes a four-course meal at the end of the three-hour session.

"'The Mercado Cooks' is a sponsored opportunity for aspiring chefs in Los Angeles," said Turner. "Also, it's for reporters to experience the opportunity to learn the cooking skills in the Dec. 14 class from Chichen Itza."

But the fun activities keep coming, as the Cultural Continuum continues with the Radish Carving Workshop Dec. 15 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Each person who attends the workshop will learn about the history of radish carving, particularly the importance to the Oaxacan community. This creative opportunity will allow its participants to carve radishes.

Mercado La Paloma is also hosting the 9th annual Noche de Rabanos, which is the indigenous celebration from Oaxaca, on Dec. 23 from 2-9 p.m.

"Think about using thin knives while being able to carve radishes and showcasing that," said Turner. "It's by far the main reason why people should come out to celebrate with us." Turner said that this is the only celebration within the U.S. outside of Oaxaca regarding the carving of radishes.

Noche de Rabanos tends to be rather popular because people are encouraged to be free spirited and depict their own, original creations. This is a night that’s filled with a lot of fun for anyone, including family. It will include dance, live music, and raffles.

Esperanza and Mercado La Paloma are recipients of ArtPlace funding, a collaboration of the nation’s top foundations and the National Endowment for the Arts to accelerate creative place making across the U.S.

"We were awarded a grant," said Turner. "We are using it for non-traditional and innovative art. We applied for the grant earlier this year, and we received the grant."

For more information on Mercado La Paloma, the Cultural Continuum “Celebrating Holidays From Around the World” and/or updates on programming planned for 2013, click here.