Huatulco Life was inspired by people with a passion for Huatulco and the Mexican lifestyle. It is a place to find out more information about the region and enjoy the beauty of the Oaxacan coastline through the photo gallery. From time to time, other interesting tidbits about Mexico make their way into the pages of this blog. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Day of the Holy Cross

Today's post is from Renée Netzel

We are lucky to have the privilege of living in a condo with a beautiful view of the cruise ship dock and the marina...and even a little bit of a view of the ocean beyond. However this very lovely condo also happens to be quite centrally located in our little town of Huatulco and the area can quite often become a busy place full of activity...

In the early, wee hours of the morning today I was quite rudely awakened at 5:30am by what initially sounded like gunfire but I soon realized it was the sound of firecrackers. A little early for a celebration, I thought to myself, but hey it’s Mexico and these things sometimes happen.

I eventually fell asleep again, only to be re-awakened again, exactly one hour later, at 6:30am guessed it...another round of fireworks! Really?!

Now I had to investigate!  I struggled out of bed and sleepily shuffled to my computer to open my calendar...May 3...hmmm...I am quite familiar with parties celebrating Cinco de Mayo, but these fireworks are a little early. This would require a little help from google to figure out.

Turns out that May 3 is el Dia de la Santa Cruz -  the Day of the Holy Cross - and it is celebrated nationwide in Mexico, dating back to colonial times. Apparently faithful Catholic Spaniards used to adorn a cross with flowers on this day, placing it on top of their houses and the tradition was brought by missionaries to Mexico. In the early years of the Spanish colonial period, most churches were still under construction so, on May 3, the priests asked the masons to make crosses and put them on the highest point of the building. Over time, masons came to make this their own celebration, and now have a special feast on this day.

The first of the joyful cohetes (sky rockets) usually begin at midnight as each construction crew attempts to be the first to announce the celebration of the Day of the Holy Cross. This macho rivalry between workers continues sporadically through the night and into the early hours of May 3, hence my early morning wake-up call!

On the construction site, they play the radio and dance with friends and family to the rhythms of mariachi or ranchera music. They have tacos with all sorts of delicious fillings: carnitas, barbacoa, black refried beans, and tamales, all topped with fantastic very hot salsas.

The tradition of Holy Cross Day goes beyond just food, however. Workers also erect simple, flower-bedecked wooden crosses strewn with decorative paper on whatever construction they are working on and the masons and the employers pray together at special morning masses or on the construction site.    
As for Cinco de Mayo, it is almost non-existent here south of the border, and especially as far south as Huatulco. Turns out that it’s not really celebrated much at all in Mexico, except for in Puebla, where they celebrate a victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.

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