Flores de Mayo IS DIFFERENT from Santacruzan
In the Philippines, the month of May is one of the merriest month in the year. Aside from being known as the ‘Fiesta Month’, May is also known as the ‘Flores de Mayo Month’. Flores de Mayo is the Spanish term for ‘Flowers of May’. It is a Filipino celebration held in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary as the most beautiful flower of May.
In contrary to what most of the Filipinos know, Flores de Mayo IS DIFFERENT from Santacruzan. Flores de Mayo is a celebration in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary while Santacruzan is the commemoration of the finding of the true cross by Saint Helen the Empress and her son Emperor Constantine. Usually, the Flores de Mayo is a month long celebration and ends up with the grand sagalahan. On the other hand, Santacruzan is just a one day celebration. Some places celebrate it either on the first day of may, May 3- the feast of the finding of the true cross, May 4- the liturgical feast of Saint Helen the Empress or during the last day of the month.
Santacruzan is a celebration commemorating the finding of the true cross. This celebration lasts only for one day. Santacruzan is somehow similar to Flores de Mayo thus, this is the reason why many are confused with Flores de mayo and Santacruzan and some even think that both events are just the same. The highlight of this occasion is the evening procession.
Although young ladies also join the evening procession, a major difference of this event from Flores de Mayo is they carry a titles of queens and female characters in the old and new testament. Oftentimes, the titles used during Santacruzan are Reina Judith, Reina Sheba, Reina Esther, La Samaritana and the Tres Marias (Mary Magdalene, Mary of Bethany and Mary Mother of James). They are also accompanied by male consorts. The last lady in the procession carries the title Reina Elena. She is representing Saint Helen the Empress and oftentimes, she is accompanied by a young boy representing Emperor Constantine.
Flores de Mayo
As stated before, Flores de Mayo is a month-long festival. Its activities include the daily offering of flowers to the Reina de las Flores, praying of the rosario cantada, daily celebration of masses and a 9-day novena. While most parishes do the grand sagalahan on the last day of the month, some do it on May 1st to give way to other May fiestas or during the last Sunday of May. During the sagalahan, chosen young ladies dressed to the nines join the evening procession under the titles of the blessed virgin mary according to the Litany of Loreto. These titles include Regina Pacis, Regina Martyrum, Regina Confessorum, Regina Patriarcarum, Regina Scrantisimi Rosarii, etc.
They walk along the streets alone without the presence of male consorts. The finale and the ‘queen’ of the ladies is the Rosa Mystica. The title Reina de las Flores is reserved to the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary; the same image used during the daily floral offering. Nowadays, some parishes called this event Flores de Maria where plenty marian images join the said procession aside from the Reina de las Flores.
Bulakan, Bulacan: The Origin of Flores de Mayo
Bulakan, Bulacan, one of the oldest municipalities in the country and once the capital of Bulacan is rich in history. One interesting fact about Bulakan is it is the town where the first Flores de Mayo celebration was held.
Flores de Mayo started in Bulakan when in 1865, Father Mariano V. Sevilla wrote the ‘Dalit kay Maria’ or the Flores de Mayo. During the year 1867, he wrote “Mariquit na Bulaclac na sa Pagninilaynilay sa Buong Buan nang Mayo ay Inihahandog nang Manga Devoto cay Maria Santisima”. This led to the popularity of this celebration.
The first floral offering for the whole month of May and the other activities for the Flores de Mayo was all held at the parish of the Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion, the patron of the town. Father Mariano Sevilla also founded the ‘Hijas de Maria’, now known as the ‘Hijas y Caballeros de Maria’ who is in-charge of all the activities related to the Flores de Mayo for the whole month of May. From the time the Flores de Mayo was first celebrated until now, the image of the La Virgen de la Medalla Milagrosa or the Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal is being venerated during the month long celebration of the Flores de Mayo.
Flores de Mayo in Modern Times
As time passed by, the celebration of Flores de Mayo became popular all over the country. It became one of the celebrated Philippine festivals during the month of May. In modern times, aside from being a religious celebration, Flores de Mayo is also considered celebration of art and fashion. In other places, the Flores de Mayo is not complete without the presence of celebrities as sagalas wearing elaborate gowns designed by famous fashion designers.
In the small barrio of Sto. Nino in Malolos, the celebration of Flores de Mayo also known as Flores de Maria is one of a kind. Every year, the Hermandad de la Virgen Maria holds an exhibit where different marian images from different places are displayed. After the week long exhibit, a grand sagalahan is held.