The Fiesta de las Cruces (“Festival of the Crosses”) or Cruz de Mayo (“May Cross”) is a holiday celebrated on the 3rd of May in Mexico and many other parts of Spain and Hispanic America.
Each year on May 3rd processions of singing pilgrims carrying streamers and flowers wend their way through towns, cities, and villages of Mexico to decorate the crosses along roadsides and on mountaintops to honor and remember the Holy Cross. All over the country thousands of crosses in streets, parks, cemeteries, and churchyards are visited and decorated each year to honor the cross on which Jesus was crucified.
The people with their colorful garlands of real and crepe paper flowers and ribbons bring to mind flower-filled May Baskets, erecting and decorating of a Maypole with the dancers’ multicolored streamers, the crowning of the Queen of the May with wreaths of flowers. and the many other colorful traditions of May Day celebrations. All of these traditions are remnants of Roman and Druid agricultural and fertility rites celebrating the beginning of summer in countries and cultures around the world.
But particularly in Mexico, the construction workers union had long been celebrating the Day of the Holy Cross as their special feast day. Because the church understands the ability of the people of Mexico to keep traditions they prefer, even when the church doesn’t approve, the Mexican episcopate made applications to Rome to keep May 3rd. The faith and desire of the construction unions won, Rome wisely agreed to allow the popular spring celebration also called the Day of the Flowery Cross to continue, just in Mexico and thus avoiding a difficult and unpopular fight.
THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY
The construction industry has flourished in Mexico in the last 20 years, and with it the celebration of the feast day of the construction workers.
In Mexico City, the Primate Archbishop conducts services at the Cathedral, blessing the colorfully decorated crosses carried in procession by the bricklayers and masons.
This special mass asks for the protection of the workers on the job, gives thanks for their safety and success during the previous year, and asks for continued good projects, conditions and salaries in the coming year.
Due to the immense amount of construction all over Mexico, and the huge number of men working in the trade the holiday is celebrated dramatically nationwide, in both big cities and less developed areas.
The Mazatlan Post