Sunday, May 3, 2009

El Día de la Cruz

It's the day of the cross on May 3rd in El Salvador - it's not an official church holiday, instead a day of thanksgiving for the fruits of the earth, a day to ask for the blessings of the coming rains. The tradition calls for a cross made from the arbol de jiote, a wood that easily sprouts again after it has been cut. (I'm told the jiote comes mainly from Suchitoto, where I'll soon be living.) The cross is decorated with flowers and cut paper chains and ; fruits and vegetables are piled at its foot, and visitors are invited to take a fruit home with them. (This photo, from Concepcion de Ataco in 2008 is from the blog La vida Barranquilla...en El Salvador)

It's a tradition with deep roots in the past, according to La Prensa Grafica. Before Spanish colonization, los Guanacos (Salvadorans) celebrated the 3rd of May as the beginning of the rainy season. They adapted the cross to the celebration, and it's now a beloved tradition. A small cross was brought to the altar during the offering procession at the Crypt of the Cathedral today, and fruits and flowers were piled at the base of the altar. But this is less a Sunday event or church event than a thank you to the earth for fruitfulness, a prayer that fruitfulness may continue, that the rains may come.


  1. Great post, I will link it to my blog!

  2. I am a proud Salvadorian and I really hope and pray that each Salvadorian live a life with peace and no gang violence. We come from a very cultural generation. We should not betrayed our ancestors and we should clean our name to gain back respected. We have beutifull traditions that I my self am very proud of.

  3. Hello Susan,
    My name is Maria Fernanda I am in the 7th grade at a private Catholic school in San Salvador. I am representing my class in writing this to you. My teacher is from the United States and he is interested in knowing more about this holiday in El Salvador. We found you on the internet and think that your explanation of this holiday is a very good one. Thank you for posting this, it helped us to explain to our teacher about this special day.

  4. Hello Sister Susan,
    I am a proud Colombian living in New York. Today my mother called me from home to remind us a family tradition taught to us by Grandma, "el dia de la Cruz, dire mil veces Jesus en ti confio". We used to make ourselves a little Cross from wooden lollipop sticks and decorated it with flowers and we will repeat the above mentioned prayer all through the day.I was curious to learn about this celebration and found your post while I was "googleing" thank you for sharing and God bless you.