Monday, March 11, 2013


PETAL ATTRACTIONS. "Parada Floral" or Maytime floral parade to honor the Virgin Mary, with town beauties as participants. Sta. Rita, Pampanga. Dated 21 May 1937.

Festivals revolving around flowers have been around for centuries; the Floralia was an ancient Roman event held in May to honor the goddess of flowers, Flora. Cypriots also observed Anthestiria, a flower carnival dedicated to the wine god, Dionysus, that was first celebrated in Athens. Then, there's the world-famous Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California (began in 1895) that features fantastic giant floats made with millions of roses and other flowers. Valencia, in Spain, boasts of its "Batalla de Flores" in July, while Belgium has its "Flower Carpet". More recent, and closer to home is Baguio’s “Panagbenga’, which, like the Pasadena event, also showcases themed floral floats using the colourful blooms of the mountain city as main decorations.

One traditional festival with strong ties to the Blessed Virgin is what is popularly called “Flores de Mayo” (Flowers of May). Today, it is still celebrated in many towns and provinces, ever since its inception in the 1870s. Believed to have originated in Bulacan with the printing of Mariano Sevilla’s book of devotion entitled “Flores de Maria (Marikit na Bulaklak na sa Pagninilaynilay ng mga Deboto kay Maria Santisima)", a translated work that affirmed the 1854 dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

Held in Marian month of May where the blooms of the country are at their brightest. “Flores de Mayo” is marked with the recitation of the Rosary every afternoon at the parish church. In Sta. Rita town, grand floral parades (Parada Floral) were once held regularly in which barrio muses, with bouquets in hand, troop to the church accompanied by the faithful and a music band. Upon arrival, they would lay down their floral offerings at the foot of Mary’s altar, beautifully decorated and heavy with the scent of sampaguitas, rosals, camias, roses and dama de noche flowers.

Other Central Luzon towns had children participants, who, in their Sunday best, sang Marian hymns and also offered flowers to the Virgin by strewing the church aisles with fragrant petals. Bouquets were then presented to Our Lady as evening fell and votive candles were lit.

The rites of “Flores de Mayo” has been intertwined with “Santacruzan”, a processional pageant that recalls the finding of the True Cross by Empress Helena. Today, the two have been collapsed into one Maytime event. For us Catholics, when words are not enough to express our praise for our Holy Mother, we say it best with God’s own fragrant creations--we say it with flowers!

1 comment:

alex r. castro said...

Hi Tyrelle, Sorry, but this photo of this resolution was just borrowed from the Center for Kapampangan Studies at Holy Angel U. May I have the name of your lola? I have one Miss Sta. Rita photo from 1933.