The Day of the Cross or Dia de La Cruz is celebrated throughout Spain and is a very old religious ceremony with an interesting history.
Legend has that in the 4th century the Emperor Constantine and his army were due to fight the Huns and Constantine feared his small army was no match against the might of the opposition. The evening before the battle it is said that he saw a vision in the sky of an angel and a shining cross and a message “In hoc signo vinces” which roughly translates to “With this sign you shall win”. The next day, Constantine ordered a cross to be made and he used it to lead his army into battle. As you would expect of such a story, the Romans emerged victorious.
Following the battle, the Emperor discovered the cross was a Christian symbol. He subsequently became baptised and was the first Christian Roman Emperor. He not only built churches but sent his mother Helena to Jerusalem to find the original Cross of Christ. On arrival, Helena had to resort to torture, to find the hiding place of three crosses that were believed to be used at the crucifixion of Jesus. In order to determine which cross she wanted, each was placed upon a dead body and miraculously the true cross brought one of the bodies back to life. To celebrate her finding on her deathbed she asked Christians to celebrate its finding which was allegedly on 3rd May.
The date was quite fortuitous because as well as the date she found the cross, it also coincided with the celebration of Flora the Roman goddess of flowers, and coincidentally in Tenerife the date the city of Santa Cruz was founded. On May 3rd, 1494, a ceremony was held on the beach, where Fernandez de Lugo, the military governor at the time, erected a wooden cross to establish Spanish ownership of the city.
So back to the current day, the 3rd May is an annual fiesta in Santa Cruz as there is a double reason to rejoice and the town is adorned with colourful, vibrant floral crosses, placed on churches, public buildings even private homes.
As part of “Adeje Living Traditions” on the 2nd May, crosses adorned with flowers and other organic materials are prepared by the various neighbourhoods and displayed the following day on buildings throughout the town. However, the pièce de résistance has to be in the north of the island. The residents in Calle del Sol and Calle del Medio in Los Realejos hold a spectacular firework battle that lasts between 2 – 3 hours this has been held for almost three hundred years and is the largest fireworks show in the Canary Islands. No surprise then that visitors from all over the island flock to Los Realejos to watch the spectacular display.