The Fiesta de las Cruces (“Festival of the Crosses”) or Cruz de Mayo (“May Cross”) is one of the most colourful festivals of the city. The streets, the plazas, the patios and the various shop windows get full of altar in honor of the Santa Cruz.
Every year on May 3, Grenadians and visitors walk along the different corners of the city, visiting the traditional crosses decorated with shawls, grenadian fajalauza ceramics, guitars, paints, manila shawls, and also with recycled materials, such as carnations, in order to give color to everything. On every altar cannot be missing the traditional “pero”, the apple with a pair of scissors inserted into it, that protects the crosses from any criticism
This celebration, which every year attracts thousands of visitors from all over Spain, originally has pagan and Christian roots. The invention of Santa Cruz takes inspiration from a legendary tale, in which the protagonist is the Emperor Constantine I. One night, Constantine had a vision of a cross in the sky and by it the words: “In hoc signo vincis” (With this sign, you shall be victorious). The emperor had a cross made and put it at the front of his army, which won an easy victory over the enemy multitude. On returning to the city, Constantine sent his mother, Saint Helena, to Jerusalem in search of the True Cross, the cross on which Jesus died. Santa Helena died praying for all believers in Christ to celebrate the commemoration of the day the Cross was found (3 of May).
This festival had ups and downs and in 1883 almost disappeared after the ban to raise money for the crosses. However, the tradition continued in the most popular districts of Granada, like Albaicin and Realejo. Children began to build small altars with a cross, asking for a symbolic tip (un chavico pa’ la Santa Cruz). Anyway, the tradition was finally reinstated on the calendar of the city as a big day from 1964.
On this joyous day it is common to find all over Granada women and children wearing the typical Andalusian dress, dancing and celebrating this way such an important day in Granada. During the afternoon and evening, around the city centre, you can enjoy live music show.
This year the festival will rely on 62 crosses around the streets and plazas, 21 crosses all over the patios, 12 shop windows, and so on.
This year, among the novelties, the City Hall will install 3 municipal crosses, which will place in Campo del Príncipe, at Plaza de las Pasiegas and in the Palacio de Congresos. The festival will start on Friday at 12:00 until 22:00 and it will be possible visit the crosses from the afternoon of 2 May.
Here’s the link with all you need to know about the programme of the day: