May is one of my favourite months, the sun is shining and birds are twittering away. The garden here at Villa Andalucía is starting to bloom with colour and the smell of the roses is fantastic and so are two main religious celebrations that take place in Spain during the month of May – First Holy Communion and the Day of the Cross.
First Holy Communion
The children prepare for months in advance for their First Holy Communion. This is the month that the children are usually confirmed and take their first Holy Communion. Every Sunday during the month of May the Parish Church of Our Lady of the Assumption will be full of families witnessing the event.
Grandparents will be out in their best attire to celebrate alongside their grandchildren who will also be wearing spectacular finery.
The girls will be in their white dresses, which look like mini wedding dresses, and the boys will be wearing white suits that look like the white naval uniform with gold braiding on. White is the sign of purity.
The girls will have their hair specially styled for the occasion and maybe a dash of make-up. Studio portraits are taken before the event and will finally be displayed in the family home alongside previous photos of generations before.
It is lovely whilst you are sitting in the main square – the Plaza Almijara – in Cómpeta having a drink of coffee or a Gin and Tonic seeing them going into church looking a bit nervous and when they come out their faces are beaming and ready for the party to begin.
In some villages, the priest holds a ceremony a few Sundays later for them and they parade about the villages scattering rose petals. Some villages do it as they come out for the church. This year we do not know when all this will be able to take place. The children have been able to continue their religious studies at home, but are unable to go to church for their instruction.
Day of the Cross
Another May tradition is The Day of the Cross. This is celebrated all over Spain. It is celebrated on May 3rd every year in Spain, particularly in Andalusia.
The Day of the Cross celebrates the day that the crucifixion cross was found.
In Spain, there are several different religious brotherhoods that organise and take part in religious celebrations, and they organise the processions and decorate tall crosses with flowers, they are usually red and maybe include some white, and the red is usually made of carnations. In the small villages of Spain, they normally use a certain plaza each year and decorate it with traditional items, such as a guitar, an embroidered shawl or an old earthenware pot.
In Cómpeta we have a procession that starts at 7pm and commences from Plaza del Carmen, a lovely little plaza near the top of the village. The procession slowly winds its way up to the bottom of the nearby urbanization of Cruz del Monte, where there is a small shrine. The local Competa band follows the cross, followed by the Mayor, the local councillors and all the villagers follow on behind from all ages, babies carried in the mother’s arms to the elderly. This is a spectacular sight to see and also to join in and follow the procession.
It’s a very joyous, happy occasion, and usually takes over an hour to get to the small shrine. The town hall supplies a picnic of snacks and drinks for everyone, the band carries on playing, some ladies dress in the traditional costumes and love to dance the traditional flamenco dances and the children run about enjoying the fun. The decorated cross is placed at the shrine and gradually everyone leaves as the sun sets, for a slow wander home down the hill.
I love the Spanish traditions and their outlook of enjoying life and the way they include everyone into their celebrations, it is very moving to see and I am grateful to live in such a wonderful village.