When we first arrived in La Cruz in 2001, Fiestas Patronales, endearingly known as “La Cruz” Days, was a time that seemed to be dreaded by the many of the gringos living in La Cruz. The town’s passion for fireworks and particularly bottle rockets would have many looking to leave town. Admittedly, the bottle rockets can be a bit of a rude awakening at 5-6:00am. And, of course the dogs go nuts (ours and most of them in the village) and get a bit skittish; Pantera goes around barking and chasing the fireworks in the air — she still barks at fireworks even after 12 years of hearing them!
Over the years, La Cruz Days have evolved gaining in sophistication, character and vibrancy. Today, Fiestas Patronales is now a major yearly event. I see an alive, vibrant energy in the parades and at the Church; the message to me, rings out loudly, communicating “we are connected to one another, we are happy, we are proud of our village and community and we love to have fun!” Mexico’s passionate spirit shines through!
April 25th kicked off the 9 day event that leads up the grand finale on May 3rd. The celebration is honoring La Santa Cruz, the Patron saint of our village, La Cruz de Huanacaxtle. You’ll find parades daily, morning and again at night, walking through the village and ending at the Church with a celebratory Mass. In the evenings, the festival continues to rev up in the Plaza — lots of food, drinks, arcade style games, rides, music, dancing, and of course, fireworks.
Here’s what Banderas News is saying about the Fiestas Patronales of La Cruz
La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Mexico – La Santa Cruz is a tradition that defines Riviera Nayarit, a magical destination where natural wonders and culture are intertwined.
The celebration started on April 25th and extends for nine days. The whole town celebrates while the bells in the church toll, the streets are filled with stands that offer food and traditional games, and the sky is painted with fireworks.
The most anticipated event is a large religious celebration called La Santa Cruz which takes place tomorrow, Thursday, May 3rd.
The town has embraced this celebration and made it its own, and as one popular saying states: “the name bears the penance.” They have named their town La Cruz de Huanacaxtle. The name of this town, however, is not based on this religious celebration; the origin of the name remains unknown.
There are several possibilities. Maybe the abundance of this tree in the region is responsible for its name. Or possibly the legend that tells of a peasant, who while traveling in the area of the Bahia de Banderas valley towards Punta de Mita, found this beautiful location and rested under the shade of a huanacaxtle tree.
According to the legend, the peasant liked the place so much that he decided to mark a cross in the tree before leaving. He left this mark with the conviction that some day he would come back and identify the tree which gave him a break from the sun, and build his home there; thus creating the name La Cruz de Huanacaxtle (The Cross of Huanacaxtle.)
The truth is that no one can verify this story. But, at the entrance of town there is a huge cross made from wood and adorned with pink, purple, and blue decorations during the time of the festivity. These three colors embellish the town for the event.
The most impressive feature of the event however, is the parade of the local fishermen’s boats. These boats set sail early in the morning, decorated with the celebration’s signature three colors and displaying the Santa Cruz (Holy Cross.) Later in the day they go back to church to attend mass.
This simple but beautiful celebration that is one of the many things that set Riviera Nayarit apart from other beach destinations. The event will take place at La Cruz de Huanacaxtle tomorrow, Thursday, May 3rd.