Dia de la Santa Cruz/Feast of the Holy Cross [] Construction Workers Day - May 3, 2023

  • cross

Event Category: Religous/Spiritual

  • Origin of the tradition

    According to history and legend, it was Empress Elena, mother of Constantine, who on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, probably in 326 AD, went in search of the cross on which Christ died, supposedly finding three crosses afterward. to carry out some excavations on the Mount of Golgotha; two of them were from the thieves and the third was from Christ. To find out which of the three corresponded to that of Jesus, Elena decided to touch a mortally ill woman with the three crosses in succession. The first two of hers made no impression on him, but when she was touched by the third cross, she stood up, miraculously healed, thus realizing that the Holy Cross had been found; since then on May 3 the anniversary of the discovery of the Cross is celebrated.

    The Holy Cross in Mexico

    The celebrations of the Holy Cross in Mexico, and mainly in the indigenous communities, show this syncretism, because on the one hand the discovery of the cross is remembered in the Catholic sense, but at the same time the celebrations are related to nature and mainly to the agriculture …

    The patron saint of masons and masonry laborers.

    Another important fact of this festivity, particularly in Mexico, is the fact that the Cross became the patron saint of masons and masonry laborers. The masons in our country, usually place a Cross adorned with natural or paper flowers in the upper part of the buildings or houses under construction. Vázquez tells us that this custom dates from the time of the illustrious Fray Pedro de Gante, who was the founder of the first school in Mexico.

    Among the mestizos, the masons are the main ones in charge of preparing the festival of the Holy Cross, supported by the entire community, since in most cases, it is the entire community that covers the expenses of this celebration. Within this, in addition to the ecclesiastical activities, such as blessing the Cross, decorating it with flowers (paper, canvas or natural), holding a special mass, and perhaps a short street procession, we can find the burning of bulls, contests for children like the stick encebado, or sack competition, as well as dances like the Pastoras and the Cowboys; mealtime is accompanied by pulque, tequila, or some other drink and, enlivened with mariachis; at night the dance is organized with popular music groups.

    In Catholic tradition, the date commemorates the time when Santa Elena, mother of Constantine, the first Holy roman Emperor, made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land to find the original Holy Cross (“Santa Cruz”). In pre-Hispanic tradition, the date relates to the return of the rains and the Cross of Tlaloc, its four points representing the four cardinal points, four seasons of the year, cycles of life and death, masculine and feminine.

    May third is a special holiday for workers in the construction trades. Workers return from morning mass bearing a priest-blessed cross and put it up on the highest point of the job site. Sky rockets are released to clear the area of dangerous spirits as food and dancing is enjoyed at the site. The midday meal supplied by the job site’s owner reflects the pre-Columbian custom of placing food and drink on specially constructed altars to dedicate new buildings, and to please the gods.

    This special day lies near the feast of St. Joseph the Laborer (May 1st) and Mexico’s National Labor Day and is part of San Miguel’s month-long celebrations of the Holy Cross


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