May Crosses is a popular festival held in the first week of May and its two weekends. In it, the brotherhoods of Holy Week, all kinds of associations and groups set their crosses and take part in a contest, where some prizes are awarded, depending on their location in the city: old part, modern area or closed spaces.
There are several hypotheses for the origin of this celebration. Some claim its origin comes from pagan festivals celebrated in the month of May, to commemorate the beginning of spring, where a young girl dressed in white and wearing a flowery crown was the "Maya", referring to the month of the flowers. However, other historians say that the origin of the celebration of the "Cross" goes back to Roman festivals, as Saint Helena found the Holy Cross on the 3rd of May. In order to check it was the real one, she put it on top of sick people and cured them. The day of her death, Saint Helena asked all those who believed in Christ to commemorate the day it was found.
Whatever its origin is, we do not know for sure when this popular tradition started to be celebrated, although it seems that it was very successful in many provinces in Spain during the 18th and 19th centuries. Some places have lost this tradition, but there are still many cities where the festival is kept.
The first contest organized by the City Council of Córdoba was held in 1953, while Antonio Cruz Conde was the mayor. In 1953 and 1954, the May Crosses were celebrated at the same time as the Courtyards, since most of them were located in them. Already in 1955, two different contests were organized. Some associations joined the festival at this time, and it gained more popularity. In 1974 the Brotherhood of Jesús Nazareno (Nazarene Jesus) was the first one to set its own May Cross. Nowadays, the brotherhoods of Holy Week are the main organizers of these events, as they have taken the place of some associations, which are especially focused on Romerías (pilgrimages). In the 1970s associations of neighbours joined the event.
The tradition consists in making a large May Cross covered by many flowers, usually red or white carnations. Around it there is usually a beautiful scenery decorated with traditional elements, such as a Spanish guitar, a typical hat from Córdoba, and flower pots, since the flower is one of the most outstanding elements both at this festival and all the festivals taking place in May in our city.
Next to the Cross there is usually an open-air bar where we can taste the most typical tapas in the city, such as salmorejo (cold tomato soup), flamenquín (meat roll) from Córdoba or the classical Spanish omelette…, drink a glass of white wine from Montilla Moriles, a beer or soft drink, as well as dance and have a good time with family or friends.
There are up to forty crosses arranged around Córdoba in the first weekend of May, and they are awarded several prizes depending on the kind of cross: category of "Cross in the old part of the city", category of "Cross in a modern area" and category of "Cross in a closed space".
If you wish to know the May Crosses, do not hesitate to hire one of our guided tours. We are experts in the interpretation of the historical heritage from Córdoba. If you have chosen to do sightseeing in Córdoba, choose a high quality option, choose ArtenCórdoba.