The Day of the Cross in El Salvador: A Celebration of Faith and Heritage

By Eddie Galdamez  | Updated on May 3rd, 2024
Day of the Cross in El SalvadorDay of the Cross Celebration. Image by Jorge

The Day of the Cross in El Salvador is celebrated yearly on May 3rd. It is a beloved Salvadoran tradition where people adorn crosses made from Jiote trees with fruits, flowers, and paper ornaments, symbolizing faith, heritage, and community celebration.

This Salvadoran tradition has pre-Hispanic and Christian roots that date back to colonial times, and it marks the start of the rainy season or winter in the country. It is an important cultural and religious event in El Salvador.

The Day of the Cross is celebrated in households by families individually. Nevertheless, most municipalities place a cross, with all the decorations and fruits, in prominent locations such as city hall buildings or municipal parks.

The crosses utilized in this celebration are made from Jiote trees. This type of tree is found all over El Salvador and is known for surviving in diverse climates and terrains throughout the country.

On May 3 El Salvador celebrates the Day of the Cross. Traditionally, our ancestors offered to Mother Earth in gratitude for the fruits received and asked for good rains and abundant harvests. Suecy Callejas Estrada.

Dia de la Cruz El Salvador
Day of the Cross in San Miguel. Image by Will Salgado

SEE ALSO: El Salvador Celebrations. El Salvador Holidays and Traditions

What do Salvadorans do During the Day of the Cross Celebration?

During the Day of the Cross celebration in El Salvador, Salvadorans engage in various activities to honor the occasion.

Families typically place a Jiote cross on either the front yard or the back patio. The cross, decorated with paper ornaments, flowers, and seasonal fruits, has to be placed outside the homes.

Depending on the family’s beliefs, members can eat the fruits from around the cross; however, they must give thanks and pray before removing and eating them.

Many also attend religious services, participate in processions, and enjoy traditional music and dance performances.

The Day of the Cross celebration is better experienced in small towns as they have more meaningful activities and foster a sense of unity and celebration within the community.

Why is the Day of the Cross Celebrated?

The Day of the Cross is celebrated in El Salvador for different reasons; nevertheless, it is a significant religious and cultural tradition.

For example, some celebrate to commemorate the start of the rainy season or winter; others do it for religious reasons to protect family members from evil spirits; lastly, some people use this day to pray that the upcoming year brings plenty of food for the family.

Celebrating the Start of the Rainy Season or Winter

The Day of the Cross is a pre-colonial harvest festival. Historians suggest that indigenous peoples initiated this tradition to honor the god of rain and fertility. They offered sacrifices to mark the beginning of the rainy season or winter.

For individuals or families that follow indigenous or religious traditions, this is the beginning when the earth’s flowers and fruits will start to emerge.

Protecting Family Members from the Devil

Many Salvadorans, especially elderly individuals, believe that on this day, evil spirits (The devil) get into the houses, dance all over, and can cause harm to family members. However, if there is a cross outside, the devil (evil spirits) will not enter the house and will only dance in front of it.

SEE ALSO: Exotic Fruits of El Salvador. Best Salvadoran Fruits to Try at Least Once

Day of the Cross El Salvador
Image by Jorge

Giving Thanks to God for Providing

On the Day of the Cross, numerous Salvadorans, irrespective of their religious beliefs, come together to express gratitude to God or the universe for the food they have received in the past year. They also pray for a bountiful harvest in the year ahead.

Salvadorans in the agricultural sector pray that the upcoming harvest season is good and they have good results. May is when many of the typical Salvadoran fruits begin to emerge; also, May is the month when most agricultural products are planted.

The Day of the Cross in El Salvador

The Day of the Cross in El Salvador is a celebration people use to remember the importance of faith, hope, and community; it is a testament to the rich cultural heritage of El Salvador. These festivities blend Indigenous traditions and Christian beliefs.

When the Spanish arrived in El Salvador, they introduced the celebration of the Christian cross and incorporated it alongside existing pre-Hispanic traditions.

In conclusion, the Day of the Cross in El Salvador is a unique and beautiful celebration that combines pre-Hispanic and Christian traditions. The festivity is a testament to the rich history and heritage of El Salvador.