Flores de Mayo

November 20, 2010

Flores de Mayo (“Flowers of May”) is a Catholic feast held in the Philippines in the month of May. Lasting for a month, it is held in honor of the Virgin Mary. The Santacruzan relates to the pageant on the last day of Flores de Mayo, held in honour of Reyna Elena & Constantine finding the True Cross in Jerusalem. The name is derived from Flores, the Spanish word for “flowers”. Also known as “Flores de Maria” (Flowers of Mary) or “Álay” (offering), the term refers to the feast as a whole. It was believed that “Flores” (short term for Flores de Mayo) originated in 1865 from the town of Malolos, Bulacan, when the young girls would make a floral offering to the Virgin Mary in the parish church. The townfolk gather the colorful flowers to decorate the Parish Church altars and aisles. They bundle the blooms in exotic arrangements for the many different festivities all together referred to as the “Flores De Mayo” (Flowers of May).

Many towns observe Flores De Mayo with the community congregating in the afternoons to pray the rosary, offer flowers to the Virgin Mary, and share homemade delicacies and snacks. Children and adults wearing their Sunday best, sing and dance to welcome the rains that will water the new crops. The townfolk choose pretty young ladies to represent the different characters of the commemoration: the “Accolades of Our Lady”. Each one is dressed in an exquisite, colorful gown, searching as regal as the Reina (Queen) she portrays. Reina Fe (Faith), Reina Esperanza (Hope), Reina Caridad (Charity), Reina Mora (Muslim), Reina Banderada (Flag), and Reina Justicia (Justice) walk with their consorts under hand-carried bamboo arches decked with color-themed native flowers. The highlight of the procession is the magestic Reina Elena (Queen Helena) who walks with her consort, Prinsipe Constantino, under a huge canopy of May flowers. Immediately behind her is a float carrying the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, followed by a brass band that lends the festive sounds to the procession. As the pageant moves along the streets, devotees holding lit candles follow, and join in the rosary, novena, and songs of praise. Oftentimes, after the evening Mass, the town Mayor hosts a dinner party to cap the celebrations. This Filipino tradition (The Queen of May Festivities), introduced by the Spanish conquerors, is more than hundred years old and goes on even in Europe & America. Filipino Communities & Associations all over the world keep the Santacruzan with the same pageantry & glamor as the townfolk in their homeland.

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