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The streets El Sol and El Medio de Arriba

At the crack of dawn with the ringing of bells, the day awakes lazily in Los Realejos. This is not an ordinary day, the scent from the flowers is today intoxicating the senses, blending history and traditions. Today, the landscape is transforming into something really wonderful.
The visitors should take advantage of the first light of the morning to admire with freshness the artisan works from the locals. The altars are erected in spaces covered with damask fabric, and the crosses are decorated with anthuriums, orchids, giant roses and many more flowers. All of this is to embellish every corner of the town. But if there are two famous streets in the town, they are the streets of El Sol and El Medio. The historical rivalry between them has given meaning to one of the most striking traditions of the festival.
On the 3rd of May, the flowers quietly intoxicate the atmosphere throughout the day, but when the night arrives, the fire has the leading role. The colourful hues that the sun lights up since dawn, later make way in the shiny nocturnal sky that Los Realejos owns. To this magnificent celestial brooch arrives one of the most important firework displays in Europe. That same day, the rivalry between the two streets takes place: a pacific confrontation where there are not and there never will be winners or losers. It is a big day for Los Realejos.

Two streets,
one feeling

When we talk about the rivalry between the residents of El Medio street and El Sol street we are talking about an historical event. But it is also making reference to the roar, to the blast of colour when the Holy Cross passes in procession. It has been like that for centuries… but not always. This rivalry is now in favour of a healthy one and it had enhanced the artistic value of the festival, in another time it did take them to confrontation, including a field battle on that same day, the 3rd of May.

Dos clases sociales

According to what some scholars say, in the 18th century the street of El Sol was the place where the peasants and the middle class people used to live, and the lords of the land’s manor houses were risen in the street of El Medio. The two sides, from different social classes, used to compete to offer the most thrilling and outstanding festival, but this confrontation also reflected the social inequalities of that time.

Una batalla majestuosa

As the day of the big party arrives, the streets get richly embellished with flower arrangements and altars in order to honour the passage of the Holy Cross. The bonfires, the smoke and the lively celebrations also joined the parade, with the intention to reach with the noise the neighbours of the opponent street. El Sol and El Medio used to compete every time even with more ornaments and bustle, showing off their potential and resources. Gunpowder, firecrackers, flying rockets and fireworks would arrive over time. The battle was gaining intensity, but most of all, it was gaining beauty and splendour.

El carácter festivo

Thus, the rivalry between El Sol and El Medio was growing even though every year it looked impossible to overpass each other. Over time, when the inequalities were disappearing and the neighbours of both streets no longer had reasons for confrontation, they still carried on with the rivalry, but in a festive way.

The neighbours from both streets have achieved something that looked almost impossible to happen: to light up the night completely, with El Teide as a silent witness of that small miracle.

Tradition with lineage

This is why if in another time rivalry meant alienation among neighbours, it is today that represents union and common effort to keep the tradition.

A rivalry that does not have winners or losers, a battle that everybody wins. Nevertheless, to recognise the radical nature of this rivalry is also a sign of power, because the festival belongs to the people of the town and they are the ones who organize it and the ones who bring it to life.

Throughout history, the worship of the cross not only has been kept intact, but it has also strengthened. Families decorate their crosses, many times they are ancient inheritances from their ancestors, not only because of a religious meaning, but also because of lineage and the meaning of belonging. Year after year, chapels and altars are different, showing off a meticulous popular art that passes from one generation to another, as a tradition’s testimony. Although short-lived, the result of this art is shown in a blast of sensations that is never forgotten.

Because the May Festival of the Crosses and Fireworks cannot be understood without the floral arrangements that fill with colour, with life and with scents the town of Los Realejos.