With so many May days over 90° this year, diversions are welcome and, luckily, the month of May is filled with festivities in and around San Miguel when most communities have celebrations venerating the Holy or Sacred Cross or Santa Cruz. We visited four communities or sites in San Miguel, one each weekend in May, where there were celebrations honoring the Holy Cross: El Chorro, Cruz del Pueblo, La Palmita and Valle de Maiz. There are many representations of the Holy Cross with each community having its own. Commonly, one finds crosses of carved wood, metal, stone inlaid with painted glass, carved stone, and painted concrete.
While the centerpiece of the celebrations in each community is the Holy or Sacred Cross, there are many other delightful aspects to enjoy. We saw church atriums festooned with colorful banners, whole florist shops of flowers decorating the church interiors, mojigangas, dancers in indigenous costume, the locos, bands, floats and, of course, endless fireworks.
As a diversion for you, our readers, here are watercolors from these four community celebrations in San Miguel. The mojigangas or giant street puppets are always a part of San Miguel parades. This “bridal” mojiganga rested in front of me for a while before joining the parade leaving from El Chorro.
The next weekend at Cruz del Pueblo a large group of dancers in iridescent and feathered costumes performed before joining yet another parade. Here I had to paint from a photo as moving people are impossible.
The third Sunday in May the Santa Cruz celebrations were in one of the oldest neighborhood in San Miguel, La Palmita. As you can see, the capilla has been decorated with banners and flowers. What you can’t see is the inside which was covered with a profusion of flowers. So beautiful!
I watched many people come and go from the church like this family (pink wig and all) hurrying to find their place in the parade.
Linda captured the wonderful extravagance of these celebrations in this painting. Always hundreds of colorful banners and so many flowers….
Valle de Maiz has a multi-day celebration that includes many parades, processions, and dancers but we painted in the quiet of a Friday morning (our usually painting day) when just a few people were going in and out of the old capilla that is now but an addition to the larger iglesia in Valle de Maiz.
One might think that this was a simple scene to paint and, yes, it was a simple scene, but when we arrived everything was in shadow. By the time we were just about finished, the sun had moved and, finally, there were shadows to give character to the painting.
A very different painting of the same scene. Notice the colored banners…Linda’s cleaning lady and her family who live in Valle de Maiz hand cut all the banners here and many hundreds more hanging in front of the newer iglesia. Hours and hours of work by so many people go into all the wonderful details that make these celebrations so memorable.
May is, indeed, the “hottest¹” month.
hottest¹ very good, excellent, cool, awesome (Online Slang Dictionary)
© 2017 Lorie Topinka
For more information about the history of the Sacred Cross and the September celebrations.