There is Story behind the El Cedral Festival held annually in Cozumel. It started as the Festival of Santa Cruz de Sabán over 166 years ago.
`In 1847 the Mayans went to war in the Yucatan Peninsula in what was is known as the Caste War. The festival of El Cedral that takes place in Cozumel annually began as the religious festival, “Santa Cruz de Sabán.”
A young man by the name of Casimiro Cárdenas was a member of a group that was attacked by Mayans in a village called Sabán. Knowing the Mayans were very close, Cárdenas found shelter in a church in the Village. When the Mayans attacked, the shelter proved to be useless, and many members of the party were killed. Cárdenas, badly wounded and covered in blood, held his crucifix in his hand and in a moment of consciousness, made a promise that if he ever reached a safe place to settle, he would hold a solemn service to honor the religious power of the crucifix. “Santa Cruz”, each and every year of his life.
The survivors of the attack continued their journey, among them the young Casimiro Cárdenas. They arrived on the island of Cozumel and founded the Village of El Cedral over the ruins of the ancient town of Oycib. After settling, Casimiro fulfilled his promise and celebrated the first service to Santa Cruz de Sabán (Holy Cross of Sabán) in 1848.
When Don of Casimiro Cárdenas died, his wife continued the religious festivities. Today, their descendants, the Cárdenas Montero Family are keepers of the Festival of the Holy Cross of Sabán.
Years have passed and going to El Cedral with the family to celebrate the Holy Cross has become a tradition. In 1975 local authorities decided to join the Cárdenas Family and include commercial and recreational events with the religious festivities.
Today, the festival is the oldest in the state with 166 years of uninterrupted celebration. The Festival at El Cedral includes regional handicraft exhibitions, horse races, bull fights, rooster fights, concerts, gastronomy, competitions, sporting events and many cultural events such as the traditional “Jarana” dance and the unique “Dance of the Hog Head.” The festival is generally held the end of April and beginning of May. Shuttle buses run almost continually from the Chedraui lot.