Originally, May 3 was known as The Day of the Discovery of the Holy Cross (El Dia de La Santa Cruz) but was removed from the Holy Catholic calendar in 1960 by Pope John XXIII. However, Mexicans will do what they wish, and since the construction workers had long been celebrating this day as their special feast day, it remains and is now more commonly known as El Dia del albañil (Bricklayers’ day).
This Mexican tradition began with the Spanish churches built in the 1500’s. On the Day of the Holy Cross, a cross, imagine that, was set at the top of the church and workers were given food and drink as a reward for a job well done. The workers burned copal (incense), and fireworks were set off to frighten away any evil spirits from the holy ground.
Construction workers now celebrate this day with an early morning mass then set out to their job sites to launch cohetes (rockets) and put a brightly decorated cross at the top of any partially finished project. Rompope, (a milk based liquor and brandy) is shared to lighten the heart of the workers in the morning. Work ends at 12 on this day, and then the tequila toasting begins along with la fiesta! It goes without saying that little actual constructing work gets done today.
Many of the construction sites look something like this video in the afternoon!
May is quite the month here in Mexico. Every time you turn around there is another celebration! For other Mexican May holidays see: El Día de Los Trabajadores, Conmemoración del Escuadron de Pelea 201, El Dia de La Santa Cruz y El Dia del Albañil, La Batalla de Puebla, Natalicio de Miguel Hidalgo, El Dia de la Madre, n, Pascua de Pentecostés, El Día del Maestro, and El Dia del Estudiante