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Featured Article:  By L.F-Posecion (Contributor)

A centuries-0ld popular spiritual tradition, the May Flower Festival or Flores de Mayo (as fondly called by Filipino Catholics throughout the globe ) is celebrated every month of May, a time of offering flowers in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

This tradition dates back during the Spanish era when it was first introduced to Filipinos by the Spaniards. The procession during the May Flower festival which is also known as “Santacruzan” forms part of the festivity and said to have originated during the time of St. Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great, 300 years A.D. Based on various accounts, St. Helena traveled to Mt. Calvary to search for the real Cross of Jesus Christ. She unearthed three crosses and tested each one by making one of her sick servants lie on all three. The cross which made the servant recover from his sickness was identified as that of Jesus Christ. The anniversary date for finding the cross is set on the 3rd of May, hence the Santacruzan festivity.

The said Filipino Catholic tradition of commemorating Flores de Mayo and the Santacruzan was handed down from generation to generation and even vigorously pursued until today. In other places of worship, people would simply flock to church, hear mass and offer flowers before the statue of the Virgin Mary. But there are churches and parishes in New York City and in other places in the U.S. where celebrations are widely, actively and joyfully participated by Filipino parishioners .

The recent Flores de Mayo activity at Our Lady of Snows in Floral Park , New York on May 20, 2012 was a very special one. While it has been in its 9th year of May Flower Festival celebration, it was considered as the most memorable particularly for Filipino-American Catholics in the said parish for three reasons:

1.That the overall activity was hosted by the OLS Filipino-American Community Ministry;

2.That it was the first time in the history of Our Lady of the Snows that Marian statues and icons took part in the procession, namely: Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Czestochova, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Our Lady of Knock, Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage, Our Lady of Health, Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of Lourdes and lastly our very own Our Lady of the Snows, which were carried by devotees of different cultural backgrounds.

3.That the celebration includes a solemn high mass which was con-celebrated by three Filipino priests (Fr. Patrick Longalong, the FDA Coordinator of the Diocese of Brooklyn, Fr. Raynald Nacino and a visiting priest from the Philippines, Msgr. Jose Galves), and presided by no less than the Bishop-elect Raymond Chappetto.

The Holy Rosary in the church led by Emma R. kicked off the event, followed by the procession and the Santacruzan. The said procession started with the Filipino American Banner marshalled by Bill C., followed by the “Ave Maria” girls , then the beautiful Sagalas and Reyna de las Flores in their gowns, Crown Bearer, Honor Guard, and the parishioners. It was amazing to see many people flocking together of various ages (young and old alike) and ethnic backgrounds to participate for the said event. This year’s Reyna de las Flores is a beautiful young adult, Ms. Reisha Cadelina. Throughout the procession, Rosabelle C. led the singing of certain Marian hymns and prayers together with the devotees carrying with them lighted candles. The steady beat of the guitar accompaniment and the singing of the parishioners made the procession more meaningful. Overall, the procession was well organized and this was coordinated by some of our talented group members: Lou M and Marie I. 

The procession ended inside the church with Monique I. (the Master of Ceremony) supervising the flow of hundreds of people and devotees entering the church for the con-celebrated Holy Mass. The angelic voices of the OLS Himig at Alay Music Ministry directed by Philip Dancel provided the liturgical singing together with its cantors  Oscar Villacrucis and Rizalino Calderon. The lectors during the mass were Emily N. and Kristian M. The solemn beautiful liturgical celebration was made possible with the well coordination of Liz Y. and Lina P.

After the Holy Mass, the current overall Chairman for the said event, Blessie Noblesala, thanked the priests celebrants, friends, relatives, sponsors and donors for making the celebration extraordinary.  Everyone was invited to a fellowship with a short program after the Holy Mass.

There was plenty of food on the table for all hundreds of people to partake in and this was made possible by the group of Praxy, Mia and Al Tan and others who helped them. It was such a big feast day that everyone especially the other nationalities get to taste the native delicacies, as traditionally practiced in our home country, the Philippines.

Just like in any Filipino-American celebrations, singing and dancing are always part of the program. For this particular OLS celebration, the program was not only participated by Fil-Am talents at OLS but also by talents from other nearby parishes. Songs were beautifully rendered by Manny, Nancy Morales, Filipino-American Choir, Christina, Alyssa, and Reisha Cadelina. The popular native dances such as : the “Tinikling” performed by the Mary’s Nativity Youth Group; the “Subli” of the Our Lay of Lourdes Youth and Adult Group, and the “Malong-Moslem” dance of the Fil-Am Choir were of great joy to the crowd and these are all coordinated by Abe S. and Marie I. Would you believe, even the decoration used in the fellowship was also special. Thank you to Print Shop and the people who served as the DJs of the event, specifically Romy, Egay and Windel.

Flores de Mayo is a festivity which all of us look forward to every year. It has been part of our culture and has already been rooted in our hearts. While we maintain our Filipino culture and heritage wherever we are, we should not also forget most importantly the essence of this festivity. We celebrate Flores de Mayo because we would like to recognize the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary in our Catholic faith and so we simply wanted to show our gratefulness and honor her and this should be the center of the celebration. We hope that this culture and faith shall be passed on to our younger generation and shall continue to thrive and prosper for a long time.