In Andalusia the first references to this celebration date back to the 17th century, with the appearance of the brotherhoods around the Christian symbol of the Cross, so it is difficult to know when it was first celebrated. However, there is a clear milestone for this celebration of popular origin.
The Town Council organised a competition for the first time in 1925 to reward the beauty and ornamentation of the crosses. They were smaller than the current ones, with a wide variety of popular flowers, which were found in the orchards and courtyards, and always with the shroud, as it was the cross from which the body of Christ had descended. It was not for nothing that there was a celebration, with full springtime signs, of the triumph of the cross on which Christ had died to redeem mankind, and this celebration took place shortly after Easter.
Flower-lined crosses are erected in squares, passages and open spaces. Sometimes they are also decorated with manila shawls, multicoloured quilts and popular elements, surrounded by plants and flowerpots with a traditional decoration reflecting the characters of the area, all around the cross as a central axis.
The neighbourhood associations and peñas are in charge of making Cordoba full of colour and festivity. The crosses can be visited throughout the day and at night. There are also bars where typical tapas such as salmorejo, flamenquín or tortilla de patatas are served, as well as refreshing drinks such as Montilla Moriles D.O. wine. All enlivened by sevillanas music and nightly dance shows.
Strolling through the neighbourhoods of San Basilio, San Andrés, Santa Marina and San Agustín gives the tourist a perfect image of Cordoba in May.
The jury of the Cordoba May Crosses 2018 competition will evaluate the following issues: the aesthetics and natural decoration of the cross (from zero to ten points); the use of and respect for the elements of the environment (from zero to five) and the effort, involvement and assistance shown by the neighbours of the area to maintain this festive tradition (from zero to five).
Thus, the month of May exalts, even more if possible, the beauty of Cordoba. The May Crosses, the Courtyard Competition, the Montilla-Moriles Wine Tasting and the Fair of Nuestra Señora de la Salud, in that order, overflow with the feelings and Andalusian splendour of the people of Cordoba with the fragrance of their flowerpots, the merriment of their stalls, the musicality of their guitarists, singers and dancers and their passion for artistic bullfighting.
According to the rules of the 2018 May Crosses of Cordoba contest, there are three categories in which the crosses can participate, depending on their location: Historical Centre; Modern Zone and Closed Enclosure.
In 2017, the first prize in the popular contest finally went to El Sepulcro in the category of closed enclosures. This year, between 27 April and 1 May 2018, the Brotherhood and Sisterhood of the Holy Sepulchre will participate in the celebration of the traditional Crosses festivities with a Cross in the Triunfo de San Rafael.
There are several hypotheses about the origin of this celebration. Some claim that its origin comes from pagan festivals celebrated during the month of May, to commemorate the arrival of spring, where a young woman dressed in white and crowned with flowers was the “Maya”, in allusion to the month of flowers. However, there are other historians who claim that the origin of the celebration of the “Cross” goes back to Roman festivals, since on the 3rd of May Saint Helen found the Holy Cross, and to verify that it was the real one, she placed it on sick people and cured them. On the day of her death, St. Helena asked all those who believed in Christ to celebrate the commemoration of the day it was found.
It is not known exactly when this popular tradition began to be celebrated, although it seems that during the 18th and 19th centuries it was very successful in many provinces of Spain. In some places this tradition has been lost, but there are still many towns where the festival is still celebrated.
In 1974, the Brotherhood of Jesús Nazareno was the first to set up its own May Cross. Nowadays, the Easter brotherhoods are the main participants in this event, as they have displaced the “peñas”, which focus especially on the “Romerías” (pilgrimages).
The May Crosses will have a different date each year, although it will vary very little, always being the first weekend in May. For example this year 2021, although due to the corona virus it has not taken place, it was scheduled to be held from 28 April Wednesday to 2 May Sunday. Admission is free and free of charge, and there are different categories where the crosses are placed. Specifically, there are three categories: crosses located in the historic centre, crosses located in modern areas and crosses in enclosed spaces or enclosures. Also this year, although the celebration has not been carried out with bar and music verbena type the schedule to visit the crosses has been from 11 am to 10 pm, although generally the schedule is from 12 noon to 5 pm and from 8 pm to 2 am.
During the 1960s, the festival left the confinement of the neighbouring courtyards and began to be celebrated in the streets throughout the city.
The first Crosses Competition took place in 1953 and was linked to the Courtyards Competition, although they were later separated.
The festivities begin with the spectacular parade, known as “La Batalla de las Flores”, where a parade of floats decorated with flowers, goes through the streets welcoming the spring.
The most characteristic neighbourhoods are the Alcázar Viejo, but also others such as the neighbourhood of San Basilio, the neighbourhood of Santa Marina and the Jewish Quarter.
In 2013 a study was carried out on the economic impact that this festival generates for the city of Cordoba and it exceeded 6 million euros.
In some of the courtyards you can even stay and enjoy a good rest.
On the other hand, you can consult the best guided tours of Cordoba in the link, in which you will find our best guided tours as for example:
Free Tour Cordoba
Guided Visit Alcazar of the Christian Kings
Medina Azahara Guided Tour