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Carol Schmidt

May 21, 2005, 1:25 PM

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Santa Cruz in San Miguel

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I'm going to quote from Atencion here on "Fiesta de la Santa Cruz" since I don't know a thing about it myself.

It says the origins are more than 300 years old, specifically in the Chichimeca-Otomi area called Valle del Maiz, which is around the Charro, near Parque Juarez. That's the public laundry area where the springs were discovered and the original San Miguel settlement was moved to in the 1500's.

(The area has the very exclusive Sierra Madre hotel and many multi-million dollar homes. Some representatives of Valle del Maiz appealed to Atention a year or so ago that so many of the former Indian residents of the area had moved away and the new residents didn't contribute to the area's many festivities, and they were in financial distress over it. Apparently they got some donations because the neighborhood continues to put on many festivities.)

Valle del Maiz is proably the most active neighborhood in SMA--Atention puts it, "No other neighborhood in SMA whoops it up more often--or better. Fireworks echo throughout town for about 96 hours during the deeply spiritual and religious activity, which includes some lighter moments. Oxen are costumed in necklaces made of limes and painted tortillas, their yokes covered in flowers. A colloquy (sort of mystery play) is re-enacted, musicians perform, mojigangas (giant papier mache puppets) and concheros Chichimecas dance and contestants try to climb a greased pole."

Atencion itself is quoting from Joseph Harmes' "The Best of San Miguel" guidebook on this, to give credit where due.

I've seen re-enactments of battles betwen Indians versus Spaniards in many SMA parades (at first I thought they were doing Cowboys vs. Indians, as in U.S. history, and it took awhile for me to catch on). For this festival the neighborhood puts on a biggie. The "Spaniards" wear military camouflage similar to Federales. "A medicine man heals the wounded and brings the dead back to life. Huts are burned, rockets fired and spectators urged to move if the battle approaches them."

Inside Atencion has photos and a calendar of the week's events, and directions are given to the neighborhood: "Turn right off Salida Real de Queretaro at Callejon de Valle de Maiz, a little past the Mirador." Every day as many as ten events go on the week of May 20-29.

The organizer, Don Polo, also Valle historian, says it is "a sacred festival and we welcome the comunity to join us in the celebrations, but please be respectful of our customs, especially when taking photos." Atencion says, "The purpose is to give thanks to God: for life, the family, the sun, water, nature and work."

They're competing against International Brotherhood Week free concerts and dances in the Jardin every night this week, too. That's where we'll be, our fourth year for International Brotherhood Week, and we still love it.

Carol Schmidt

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