Fiesta de la Cruz tonight

Cross decorated for Fiesta de la Cruz, in Breña Alta, 2009
Cross decorated for Fiesta de la Cruz, in Breña Alta, 2009

In the east of La Palma, Holy Cross Day (fiesta de la Cruz) is the biggest festival in spring. They only celebrate it in Santa Cruz, Breña Alta and Breña Baja, and as the name suggests, they decorate the roadside crosses – beautifully. As often happens, the main party is the night before the public holiday. Since most crosses are hung with gold jewelry (among other things) people stay beside them in shifts all night, and all the next day. Most holidaymakers go and admire the crosses on the morning of the 3rd (Monday), but the locals go see the crosses starting at about 11 pm the night before, when it’s cooler and more atmospheric.

Detail of a cross on the Sacred Cross fiesta, showing the jewelry.  Breña Alta, 2009
Detail of a cross, showing the jewelry.

For the last few years, it’s been fairly common to have a few mayos or machangos beside the cross. These are giant rag dolls, almost life sized,something like scarecrows or the guys I used to make for bonfire night. In 2008, Last year, Santa Cruz had a whole street full of them.

Spiderman mayo, protecting the Cruz del Rosal, Breña Alta, 2010
Spiderman, protecting the Cruz del Rosal, Breña Alta, 2010

If you’ve got a hire car, the best plan is to go up to San Isidro and follow the crowd down the hill. There are crosses all the way along a very steep lane, which used to be a donkey track. Tonight it’ll be one-way — downhill. (You go up the much newer, asphalted road.) As you approach each cross, you’ll find a small traffic jam. You go past the cross slowly (usually saying, “Oh wow!”) and drive on to the next.


If you haven’t got a car, I recommend a stroll around Santa Cruz, particularly up the older bits. From 10 pm Sunday night until 2 am Monday morning, there will be a public dance (verbena) in the Plaza España at the north end of Santa Cruz, near the concrete ship. And there will be fireworks at midnight at the Castillo de la Virgen in Santa Cruz.

San José cross, Breña Baja, 2010, decorated with a Japanese theme
San José cross, Breña Baja

Posted by sheila

Sheila came to La Palma with a six month contract and has stayed 24 years so far. She used to work as a software engineer at the observatory, but now she's a writer and Starlight guide.

This article has 3 Comments

  1. Even as an island-resident very nice to read about all the fiestas I seem to miss. I really appreciate your Blog! We west-palmeros should cross the Cumbre more often :)

  2. I’m pretty bad at crossing the Cumbre myself in the other direction. I really should do it more, except that at the moment, I’m very busy with a course to be a tour guide specialising in Astronomy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>