The day of the cross in El Salvador is a celebration that takes place every year on May 3rd. On this day, in homes across El Salvador, families decorate a cross made of Jiote tree with fruits and paper ornaments. This Salvadoran tradition dates back to colonial times, and it marks the start of the rainy season or winter in the country.
During this celebration, markets all across the country are filled with handmade crosses of all sizes. At the markets, you will also find all types of paper decorations for the crosses, in addition to seasonal fruits.
The celebration is generally held in each house by individual families; nevertheless, some municipalities place their own cross in either city hall or the municipal park.
What do Salvadoran’s do exactly for this holiday?
In each house, either in the front yard or back patio, a cross is placed by the family. This cross is made from the branches of the Jiote tree, a common tree in El Salvador.
Then, the family decorates the cross with paper ornaments and different types of seasonal fruits. Lastly, each family member can remove and eat any of the fruits; however, before removing and eating the fruit, it must give thanks and pray.
Why is the day of the cross celebrated?
Well, no one answer fits everything; if you ask around, you will get different answers. However, all the answers are around the following three subjects.
1- The start of the rainy season or winter.
The Day of the Cross is a pre-colonial harvest celebration; this indigenous tradition celebrates the commencement of the rainy season or winter.
For individuals or families with indigenous traditions, this is of the beginning when the flowers and fruits of the earth will start to emerge.
2- To protect the family from the devil.
The elderly population believes that on this day, the devil gets into the houses and dances all over. However, if you have a cross, the devil will only dance in front of it.
The cross is placed and decorated outside the house, in either the front yard or back patio. This is done to defend the family from the devil; since there is a cross outside, it will not enter the house.
3- To give thanks to God for providing.
Some Salvadoran’s celebrate this day to give thanks to God for providing them with food such as fruits, and to pray that the following harvest season will be a good one.
The month of May is when many of the typical Salvadoran fruits begin to emerge; also, May is the month were most agricultural products, that include corn, are planted.
It is customary to pray in front of the cross, give thanks, and then proceed to eat the fruits adorning the cross.
In summary, people offer fruits before the cross as a way of giving thanks to God for the harvest.
The day of the cross El Salvador.
In summary, the Day of the Cross is an old Salvadoran tradition where people offer God the first fruits of the land, and also marks the start of the rainy season.
In El Salvador, the Day of the Cross is a celebration that mixes the Spanish religious customs of the Holy Cross with the indigenous tribute to mother earth.