The Altars of the Cross

The Altars of the Cross or the May Cross festival is a tradition of high popular content, a living reflection of the idiosyncrasy of the nascent society in Cuba and its Andalusian ancestors.

The Altars de La Cruz were festivals that were celebrated in the eastern part of Cuba in the mid-19th century (1858).

The City of Holguin was a participant in these celebrations that took place in the month of May and extended until the 31st of the month itself.

In those days, the City of Holguin lived moments of intense activity and rejoicing for family reunions, meetings of friends, it was a true celebration of the home.

Los Altares de La Cruz focused on an altar that was placed in the center of the large room of the house. This was decorated with candles and beautiful flowers that in the month of May were abundant and reached their greatest splendor in the patios of the homes.

On the floor and on a carpet, gourds or trays, according to the changes that the different eras imposed, they offered the audience countless fruits, many of them native to Cuba, among which were: bananas, oranges, pineapple, corojos, guavas. , red mameyes, mangoes, plums, pink apples, etc. The fragrance of flowers and fruits filled the room with a warm and special aroma.

Vases, porcelain, and statuettes were placed as decorations. What was called the Altar was never adorned with the Christian Cross or with any religious image or print; it was a social celebration without religious nuances.

The dance began exactly at 8 at night and invariably ended at midnight, the time when the few street lights went out.

Before midnight in the dining room of the mansion, sweets were served. As a drink, some sweet wine and at the end of the century some beer.

Shortly before the end of the dance, a young woman chosen in advance made an appearance wearing a pretty bow from which hung two purple or red ribbons at least half a meter long, and in a surprising way she pinned it to the lapel of one of them. the gentlemen, who, surprised, thanked the gesture and with it had the obligation to organize the next party, which involved finding the house, paying for the music, the lighting and all the other expenses of the next dance.

It was strictly forbidden to announce the new godfather without first grooming him. Later, he in turn would choose, by sending a luxurious brooch, who would accompany him to the party and would be the godmother of the next celebration.

With the appearance of the new century and the neocolony, the celebration of Los Altares de La Cruz lost its popularity until it was forgotten in the shadows of the colonial era in Cuba.

The Altars of the Cross, an old-fashioned, perhaps forgotten tradition, resurfaced in one of the atriums of the Cathedral of San Isidoro in the City of HoLGUIN on May 3, 1997 and since then, year after year, a good part of the community and numerous curious people, motivated by the break of monotony, come to participate in it.

The Altars of La Cruz is a tradition rescued thanks to the happy initiative of the Women's Group of the Cathedral of San Isidoro in the City of Holguin, a celebration that for years encouraged the religiosity of this town and that although its origin was Christian, specifically Catholic , little by little it derived and merged with other cultural elements until it became a mixture of faith activity and healthy recreation.

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