MEXICO CITY — Construction workers across Mexico celebrate May 3 as ‘Día de la Santa Cruz’ or ‘Day of the Holy Cross.’ In Mexico, the obscure Catholic holiday commemorating the discovery of the true cross has long been observed as a special feast day to honor and celebrate construction workers, even after its removal from official Church liturgy in 1960.
In the city of León, Guanajuato, the ceremony started with a mass by the Archbishop of León, Alfonso Cortés Contreras, which was followed by a breakfast organized by the College of Architects and Engineers of León. Hundreds of construction workers and their families attended the event.
Juan Ernesto Ramírez was one of the many construction workers who brought a wooden cross adorned with flowers to the ceremony.
“I have been working in construction since I was a child,” said Ramírez in an interview with Notimex. “My father was a construction worker, and I have been one as long as I can remember. This ceremony makes me proud of my profession, this is a day to celebrate.”
For Ramírez, the cross signifies protection against work accidents.
According to records from the state of Guanajuato, almost 200,000 Guanajuato residents work in construction. Governor Miguel Márquez recently announced an investment of more than 10 billion pesos ($568 million) in construction projects in the state, noting his government has already invested more than two billion pesos to strengthen the construction industry in 2016.
MIGRANT WORKERS LOOK TO U.S. FOR HIGHER PAY
Meanwhile, many Mexicans hope to migrate to the United States to work construction in that country. Construction is one of the highest paid industries in the U.S. for migrant workers, especially if they have knowledge of electricity or plumbing. In the border city of San Luis Río Colorado in the northern state of Sonora, construction workers, engineers and teachers celebrated the Day of the Holy Cross with cookouts, drinks and music.
Gilberto Hernández, a migrant from Guanajuato, spent the Day of the Holy Cross in San Luis Río Colorado. Although Hernández has worked on farms in the past, he hopes to work in construction once he reaches the United States.
“I’ve heard that unskilled workers in construction can make more than $10 an hour and bricklayers can make more than $15 an hour,” said Hernández.
Federico León, a migrant from Sinaloa with experience working in construction, also found himself in San Luis Río Colorado on May 3. León is migrating to find better paying jobs on the other side of the border. He said that he enjoys working construction and thinks that it is fun, although physically challenging. However, his main motive for migrating is the higher salaries that will help him support his family.