It’s one of those lovely days for me today. It’s one of those many days when I remember why I chose Spain, a long time ago, as the place where I most wanted to be.
This Festival of May Crosses is a particularly lovely ‘fiesta’.
Cruz = Cross …. Cruces =Crosses Mayo = May
Cruces de Mayo = Crosses of May = May Crosses
And it is especially in my ‘adopted’ home town today, 1st of May, 2017.
In many towns in Spain, for years some neighbourhoods have participated in this flower-filled fiesta. Local residents spend time and money-making a big replica of The Cross ( La Cruz) and cover it completely with beautiful flowers and adornments. See article on May Crosses Cruces de Mayo, Spain
The during the fiesta, the locals organise a big party for all to participate in, for a very small donation to the proceedings.
I was in a couple of Plazas today in my adopted home town and had a wonderful time with the locals enjoying the wine, food, guitar music and dancing.
There was plenty of wine, beer, paella, sangría, hams and cheeses, and Spanish omelettes to be had for next-to-nothing prices, because this fiesta is not for making profit: and the atmosphere was great!
Why all this festivity around decorating a Cross?
Any excuse for a fiesta, perhaps?
No…far from it.
The real significance of this festival is quite grand and dates from Rome in the 4th Century, so not to be sniffed at!
Constantine the Great was a worried man on the night of the 27th October, 312. He could not get to sleep the night before the great battle.
Like any other warrior in those days who was worth his salt, Constantine prayed to win the battle the next day. He prayed to whomsoever was out there, regardless.
So legend would have it that the night before the battle of Ponte Milvio (Milvian Bridge), Constantine, when he finally managed to get a bit of shut-eye, had a vision. If he had a vision and exactly what the vision was, is still debated by historians today…but let’s imagine; he had a vision and that vision was a sign. A sign that was being used by Christians at the time.
In the vision, the legend says, Constantine was told he would win the battle of the Ponte Milvio if he showed the Christian ‘sign’ on his soldiers shield.
Traditionally this was taken to be the sign of The Cross, although realistically it could have been one of several ‘signs’ going around at the time, signifying Christianity.
What choice did poor old Constantine have? Having nothing to lose (except the battle) he decided to go along with the ‘vision’.
You would have done exactly the same in his position.
Anyways, guess what?
Oh Yes! He won the battle fair and square, which made Constantine, some say, convert to Christianity on the spot, in gratefulness to ‘the sign’.
The Mayor of the village will be judging the Cross displays later this evening and I think it will be a close contest…
But it’s not about winning, but enjoying some ‘neighbourliness’ that can only come from a common purpose, good music and good food, all enjoyed in the sun.
The lovely thing about the Spanish fiesta is that the whole town turns out and spirits are high.
The language opportunities on a “fiesta day” are multiple. Get yourself and enjoy. The folk of my town like nothing better to show of how they can party.
I love this country.