The Day of the Cross in El Salvador is celebrated every year on May 3rd. On this day, Salvadorans decorate crosses made from Jiote trees with fruits, flowers, and paper ornaments. It is celebrated throughout the country and is an important cultural and religious event in El Salvador.
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.
The Day of the Cross in El Salvador is a celebration held in each house by individual families; nevertheless, some municipalities place a cross, with all the decorations and fruits, in front of the city hall building or the municipal park.
All the crosses used during this celebration are made from Jiote trees. This type of tree is found all over El Salvador as it survives in all kinds of weather and on different terrains.
During this celebration, municipal markets 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.
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.
What do Salvadorans do During the Day of the Cross Celebration?
During the Day of the Cross, in each house, either in the front yard or back patio, a cross is placed and decorated with paper ornaments, flowers, and different types of seasonal fruits. All the crosses are set outside the homes!
Depending on the family’s beliefs, members can eat the fruits around the cross; however, they must give thanks and pray before removing and eating the fruit.
Why is the Day of the Cross Celebrated?
The Day of the Cross is observed by Salvadorans for different reasons, such as a celebration to commemorate the start of the rainy season or winter. It is also celebrated 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 celebration. This tradition was started by indigenous peoples who worshipped the god of rain and fertility; they offered sacrifices to celebrate the commencement 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.
Giving Thanks to God for Providing
Religious Salvadorans celebrate this day to thank God for providing them with food and pray that the following brings them plenty of food.
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.
Today, the Day of the Cross is celebrated as a blend of Indigenous traditions and Christian beliefs.
When the Spanish arrived in El Salvador in the 16th century, 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.