"I am Santa Cruz: a lively place for land and border of an ocean that is sound, music, vertigo, vision, dream and battle."
When the discoverer of Madeira, João Gonçalves Zarco, went through a "valley of beautiful grove" on July 3, 1419 or 1420, he found old cedars fallen by the time with which he ordered to make a cross, baptizing the place of Santa Cruz.
On May 8, 1440 Tristan "from the Island" was given the Captaincy of Machico. Infante D. Henrique Regidor of the Order of Christ specifies that "I carry Tristão, knight of my House, of my Island of Madeira from the land from beyond the Ribeira do Caniço ten steps, as it goes through the Ribeira above, and thence cross the mountain to the tip of Tristan ". Therefore, the Captaincy extended from Ponta da Oliveira (in Caniço) to Ponta de S. Lourenço and from there to Ponta do Tristão (in Porto Moniz), which later connected to Ponta da Oliveira, dividing the island diagonally. As is understood, by this division, Santa Cruz belonged thus to the old Captaincy of Machico.
At the beginning of the sixteenth century, Santa Cruz already eqautes with the village of Machico, from which it depended administratively, having more population and commerce, even having a customs office for the lucrative "sugar deal".
In this trade, the following stand out: Urbano Lomelino, who settled in Porto do Seixo, having a house and a mill, and later, by pious testamentary disposition, he founded the Convent of Our Lady of Mercy of Santa Cruz; or Nuno Fernandes Cardoso, who settled in Gaula, poissessing Solar and Chapel of St. John Lateran, and also the Salvago family, with the sisters Isabel and Leonor Álvares, who will establish the Chapel of the Mother of God in Caniço.
Due to the mismanagement of Machico by Captain-Donate Tristan Vaz, and to the growth of Santa Cruz, the powerful Freitas of Santa Cruz will press the monarch to grant a charter to the locality, which in fact will end up happening on June 26 of 1515, with the creation of the Village and, on December 15 of the same year, obtaining the respective charter.
The area of this new county was dismembered from Machico from Porto do Seixo until the end of Caniço.
Behind this breakdown is the influential João de Freitas, who returned in 1511 from North Africa, where he fought valiantly against the Moors, was a squire and a man of confidence of King Manuel I and for that reason he receives the Treasury of the area of Santa Cruz. It is he indeed, who will persuade the monarch to give the status of municipality to the said locality and it is even in his own houses, where the first town council is gathered.
If in the first year the new chamber worked in the houses of the "patron", the following year, it was already functioning in its own house, with a gothic portal with a broken arch and twinned windows, a building that has reached our days and where the town council still operates.
The new church Igreja Matriz de Santa Cruz, with three naves, similar to the Cathedral of Funchal, is practically the second church of the island, having been built by João de Freitas, replacing the small and run-down old chapel of Bom Jesus, which served as a parish church, of which today only the toponym remains. In 1533 it would be ready, when João de Freitas was authorized to be buried in the main chapel. His tomb of Flemish taste, with brass blades edging the lid, can still be seen today in that chapel of the Matrix Church.
The municipality was essentially agricultural, with its poios, cultivated terraces, artistically cultivated and irrigated by serpentine water channels, standing out still today the production of onion in Caniço and the cultivation and industry of the wicker in Camacha.
In the parish of Caniço the tourism industry developed starting from the 70's taking advantage of the beautiful sea front, the tranquility, the mild climate and the proximity of Funchal.
In this special season, the spirit of Christmas is more present than ever in Santa Cruz. The reasons for visiting us and staying with us are many, among them: the pictures and illuminations alluding to Christmas, inspired by the traditions of the county, scattered throughout the cities and parish centers; Market Nights in their respective localities, full of sounds, aromas and flavors alluding to the time, among others.
In this party, which in Santa Cruz goes from the beginning of December until January 15, with the great village of Santo Amaro and the traditional sweeping of the cabinets.
This event Natal na Cerca occurs in the month of December, and seeks to bring the magic of Christmas to the center of the parish of Caniço. During this time, the city of Caniço hosts countless stalls for snacks, ponchas, wheat soup, chicken soup, and the typical wine and garlic pork sandwiches, which are accompanied by a lot of animation. The little ones also count on the presence of Santa Claus, the elves, Mother Christmas and face paintings.
Every year, on January 15, Santo Amaro is celebrated. It is a religious festival celebrated in the headquarters of the county of Santa Cruz, in honor of the saint with greater devotion by the population of Santa Cruz. The event takes place during about 4/5 days and counts on the presence of several artists, food and drink stands and lots of animation, in this event that is the first festival of the year in Madeira Island.
Tradition explains that this day of Santo Amaro closes the Christmas season in Madeira with the "sweeping of the closets", carried out by groups that are armed with the traditional and symbolic heather broom (Erica platycodon ssp. Maderincola), that go singing from home in home to receive the last delicacies that had been left over from the festive season.