Las Cruces de Mayo (The Crosses of May), Vélez-Málaga
This festival has been declared to be of Tourist Interest by the Provincial Council of Málaga.
Please check with the local Town Hall or Municipal Tourism Office for the festival date before planning any sightseeing activities.
Cruz de Mayo is a festivity which is celebrated on 3rd May. According to the Roman rite, it is a celebration of the discovery made by Saint Helena, the mother of Roman emperor Constantine the Great, of the real cross held by Jesus Christ during his peregrination to Jerusalem. As this is a celebration of the Passion of Christ and his Cross, the colour that prevails according to the Roman rite is red.
This festivity is rather common in Spain, and above all in Andalusia. In the case of Vélez-Málaga, this event is related to the historical moment when the Catholic Monarchs took possession of the town in 1487. The feast has been celebrated ever since in the streets, squares, and patios. Even shop windows are decorated with altars in honour of the Holly Cross.
The first quotes of the May celebration in Vélez-Málaga were offered by the Catholic Kings' main chroniclers, such as Hernando del Pulgar, Alonso Palenia and Andrés Bernáldez, who mentioned that the town of Balis (nowadays Vélez-Málaga), was conquered and annexed to the Crown of Castile on 27th April 1487. However, King Fernando did not want to take the town right away but he postponed it until the 3rd of May, the Holly Cross Day, when he was given its keys by the Nasrid mayor Abu l-Cacin Banegas. Due to this historical event, this is the only town which was added to the Crown of Castile on this date, and therefore called Vélez-Máaga de la Cruz (Cross) from the end of the 15th to the 17th century.
The festivity was established for centuries, and celebrated by the inhabitants from different neighbourhoods, who used to make crosses and decorate them with flowers or embroidered shawls, and then place them at streets and squares. From the end of the 1970s to the end of the 1990s, the celebration was in decline, but it was restored and became important again at the beginning of the current century, and celebrated by the most traditional neighbourhoods in the old town of Vélez-Málaga, the Holly Week brotherhoods and cultural and town associations.
The Town Hall of Vélez-Málaga has promoted the festival and created a jury of the festival due to its historical, ethnic, tourist and cultural importance. It lasts from 27th April to 3rd May. A series of awards has also been established in order to reward the best crosses regarding its decoration and relevance. Before the celebration takes place, those residents who wish to make a cross and show it to the jury have to inform the organizers about their attendance so their crosses would be included on the route of the festival held on the 3rd May.
The festivity is supported by the Environmental and the Quality of Life Association from La Axarquía (AMACVA). The attendance of the residents and social or religious associations has increased in number over the years. This is evidenced by an increase in the number of crosses that have been presented since 2014, when fourteen crosses were displayed compared to twenty-five in 2019. In 2019, there was a parade and the play that represented the handover of the town keys. It was preformed by the residents who walked along the streets properly dressed up.