Sunday, June 1, 2008

Flores de Mayo - Santacruzan

Every May in the Philippines, there is a festival being held called the "Flores de Mayo". It is a Catholic event in honor of Virgin Mary. "Flores de Mayo" is a Spanish phrase, for which "Flores" derived from flowers and "Mayo" means May, coming up with Flowers of May. It is a festival introduced by the Spaniards during their long reign in the Philippines.

During this month, children would go to the church carrying flowers and baskets of petals which are offered to Virgin Mary. When I was a kid, my mom would let me have a vacation in our hometown. I regularly attended Flores de Mayo and after the offerings and prayers, we were gathered around in a circle and sit on the grass just outside the church. Then there were activities such as singing and dancing and before it was over, bags of cookies were distributed to each one of us.

After the whole month of activities, Flores de Mayo is always highlighted with the Santacruzan which is a procession to honor the finding of the Holy Cross by Reyna Helena (or Queen Helena), which was the cross where Jesus Christ was nailed. The said Queen is the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great. Girls and young ladies are chosen to be a part of the procession. They all have different names of queens, each one carrying an item that signifies them. I for one had the role of Queen Sheba, the queen who once visited King Solomon and was overwhelmed by his power, wisdom and riches. Queen Sheba carried a jewelry box.

After the procession, there are culminating activities. The presentation of the queens and their escorts, their dance, and some intermissions. Flores de Mayo and Santacruzan has long been practised by Filipinos, it is one event that's full of color, beauty, elegance, and most of all, it is honoring the Great Mother, Virgin Mary.

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