Just like the rains and the blossoming of flowers, the Valle del Maiz will return. The celebrations and devotion celebrated for centuries will continue, but it will be different this year, evolving and adapting to today’s COVID-19 situation. The next festival is to be a spiritual and closed festival, and it will be held at a later time.
The festival of Valle del Maíz is a community celebration of the village and for the village. It revolves around the Santa Cruz (Holy Cross), which is adored, prayed to, and danced to. Fireworks are set off in its honor to illuminate the sky. The people turn to the Santa Cruz in times of joy and sadness, during prosperity, and during times of desperation. It is the symbol of transcendence that leads the believers and perhaps those who do not believe as well. Light, music, movement, and products of the earth are the offering during the celebration of the Santa Cruz, and in turn the devotees ask the Santa Cruz for a peaceful feast filled with joyful noise. They requisition good weather from the auspices of the Holy Cross and have faith it will bring a plentiful harvest.
This year the Ensaye Real, the candlelight vigils, the procession of suchiles (large elaborately decorated ritual offerings, often in the form of a cross) and mojigangas ( large paper maché figures) and the dancing will be postponed. The feast will also take place later in the year, perhaps not until next May. We spoke to Augustín González, one of the five festival stewards, who is also the Guardián de la Cultura y Tradiciones (Guardian of Culture and Traditions). He said that Valle de Maíz wants to make sure it is not considered a noncompliant community. They are therefore following the guidelines laid out by the authorities, and they have decided to hold the festival later in the year: “Probably in September, but the month is full of celebrations. We are analyzing it. If it doesn’t take place [then], we will have to wait until May of next year,” he said.
The festival customarily takes place every year on the last weekend of May. This year, “Those responsible for making the posts for Cruz del Palo Cuarto (the fourth pole cross), El Cedro (the cedar), and the atrium, will do so and they will be put in their usual places. We are also doing the novenario (novena prayers), but it’s a closed-door event,” added González.
“We want to respect the conditions (imposed) by the authorities for the population. We don’t want problems. We want to have the festival on a different date. It will not be the same. We are seeing the current economy, and how it will affect everyone. There is much unemployment and little income. We have to see what dates are available. We hope we can have the celebration as early as possible and that it doesn’t go unnoticed,” González concluded.
The neighborhood’s devotion is so great that some families have decided to set off up to two-dozen fireworks during the novena, but there will be no dawn celebration on May 31.