Thursday, May 24, 2018

Flores de Mayo

Written by  Fay Santos-Vargas

The month of May is a reminder to many Filipino Catholics to be thankful for the bountiful harvest, not only for staple foods and fruits, but also for the flowers of many colours and fragrances. This is also the month dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Filipinos’ close relationship with Mary is reflected in numerous celebrations around the country, but nothing tops the Flores de Mayo (Flowers of May) which is celebrated everywhere. The Flores de Mayo fiesta starts with a Mass where flowers are presented to the statue or icon of the Blessed Mother. It continues with the sharing of food and a social gathering. The celebration closes with an evening procession called Santacruzan—a ritual pageant where female participants (sagalas) are dressed in colourful gowns, each representing the many titles of Mary, other biblical figures, and traditional personifications. The celebration has evolved over the years and sometimes includes contemporary touches. Included in the procession is a statue of Mary, usually carried in a flower-adorned float and accompanied by devotees who pray the rosary and sing hymns of praises during the whole procession. The most popular hymn sang in the procession is the, Dios Te Salve – the Spanish version of the prayer, Hail Mary. People gather along the procession route with lit candles to pay homage to the Blessed Mary and to watch the pageantry of few chosen “sagalas”. Santacruzan commemorates Queen Helena of Constantinople’s finding of the cross, believed to be the one used to crucify Jesus.


Flores de Mayo is celebrated at Holy Family Cathedral where participants attend the 11:30 am Mass and offering flowers on the first and last Sunday of May while the Santracruzan, presented by the Filipino Heritage School (FHS) is added on the last Sunday of May. Many Filipino parishioners of Holy Family Cathedral are volunteers of this event. The lunch served at this function has been a major fundraising of the school. Funds raised are used in its operation and support the promotion and preservation of the Filipino culture and traditions, highlighting language education. All students of the Filipino Heritage School participate in the Santacruzan, and an invitation to partake is extended to other members of the Filipino community.

I watch the excitement on the students’ eyes as we start planning for Flores de Mayo. However, the brighter glows are seen on their parent’s as they wait for the assignment of positions at the Santacruzan. As the Coordinator of the Filipino Heritage School and on behalf of our teachers, parents, and students, I want to extend our sincerest thank you to Fr. David for welcoming us at Holy Family Cathedral and allowing us to share this beautiful ceremony of Marian devotion. We are also thankful for having Fr. Deyre in our midst, one who can relate and share the pride of our culture. Thank you for your undying support from the parents and teachers of the Filipino Heritage School.

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