|Decorating the wooden cross|
Carefully winding multiple pieces of crepe paper around and around the wooden form, his large work-calloused hands create a beautiful pattern of colours: red, green, yellow, orange and blue.
Then bright silk flowers are secured on the pieces of wood; wood that has been scavenged from the work-site and formed into a cross in celebration of this special day for construction workers.
|Workers place the cross at the highest point of the construction|
A group of men tote the cross to the highest point on the new building. As the cross is secured in place the workers ask for safety on the job site, and prosperity for the coming year.
Our Canadian friends Déanne Gray and Brent Curley are building a home just a few houses north of ours on the east side of Isla Mujeres.
|The crew – relaxing after work|
Déanne and Brent invited us, and a few other North American friends, to participate in the Dia del Albañil (Day of the Masons, stone-workers) celebrations at their construction site. For the fiesta, it is the responsibility of the home owners, along with their architect, in this case Lucy Chavez Cantu, and building foreman to arrange the details.
|Celebration lunch for May 3rd|
The festivities typically include regional foods like Cochinita Pibil (a slow-roasted pork dish) and cactus salad, with drinks of tequila or mezcal or pulque, plus lots of cold cerveza.
And of course, dessert. Déanneis known around our neighbourhood for her wonderful baked goodies that she delivers to the workers every Saturday afternoon. For the fiesta she made a batch of sugar cookies decorated with a cross, plus three different types of brownies for everyone to enjoy. Yum! I think we’re really going to enjoy having them in the neighbourhood!
A feast day for all of Mexico, May 3rdis also known as El Dia de Santa Cruz (Day of the Holy Cross), or Dia del Albañil (Day of the Masons, stone-workers).
This celebration ceased in all other countries of the world when Pope John XXIII removed the feast day from the Catholic liturgical calendars in 1960. The Pope was planning to focus attention on the celebration of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on September 14th, coincidentally also Independence Day in Mexico.
|Lucy Chavez and Déanne Gray|
While the rest of the world obeyed the wishes of the Pope, in Mexico, it caused a bit of an uprising. Since the late 1500’s the construction workers had always observed May 3rdas their feast day. They did not want to move their special day to September 14th, the traditional day of celebration for the Charros (Cowboys).
To keep the peace between the two warring factions the Mexican clergy made applications to Rome to retain the May 3rdcelebration. The Vatican agreed – but only for Mexico!
|Mexico City – Flowery Cross|
In other parts of Mexico, especially Mexico City where Lucy Chavez previously lived, the crosses are adorned with real flowers, but our Caribbean breezes tatter the petals too quickly so artificial flowers are used instead.
For Sra. Chavez the May 3rd celebrations are a very important tradition that she strives to preserve by including new home owners in the festivities.
This week there are three construction sites all within a block of our house, decorated with the Flowery Crosses.
|Construction site for 12 new condos on our street|
I guess that makes us a busy, and hopefully a well-protected neighbourhood in paradise.
Lynda & Lawrie
|Another new house on our street|
More fun stuff from Trip Advisor: How do you pronounce Isla Mujeres?
Eez- la Moo-hair-iss? – Milwaukie
Ees la – moo hair ace?– Washington DC
Eez-la Moo-heh-res?– Seattle Washington
What we hear most often from local friends is:
eez-la moo-Heh-res The accent goes on the second syllable in Mujeres.