Other name of this festival is “Alay”, from the Filipino word for “offering”, wherein the people gathered flowers and offer it to the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This festival was held in the whole Month of May starting from May 3 until the end of the Month. In the Bicol Region, the feast was celebrated by reciting the Holy Rosary, Salve Regina and the Litany of Loreto. While in the Western Visayas, the Image of Mary was venerated in chapels and churches. Then they gather children to have a simple catechism and teachings especially about the life and story of the Blessed Virgin and her apparitions. The children also offers flowers before the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is a commemoration reminiscent of the Our Lady of Fatima. In the Tagalog region, the custom began after the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in 1854 and after the publication of Mariano Sevilla’s 1867 publication circa translation of devotional “Flores De Maria”. One example is in Lipa, Batangas, where there’s a nightly devotion honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary by offering flowers and prayers before the image of the Blessed Virgin.
Santacruzan is also held on the last day of the Flores De Mayo. Santacruzan is derived from Spanish of “Holy Cross”, which honors the finding of the True Cross by Saint Helena of Constantinople, the mother of the Roman emperor Constantine the Great. The Santacruzan started in the mid-1800s and was first held in Malolos, Bulacan.
Many people think that this feast is a beauty pageant or a parade. But this parade is not without its meaning. Some of the region and cities which celebrates the Santacruzan still stick to its true purpose, to commemorate the finding of the Cross. Here are the biblical figures and traditional personifications in the parade arranged in order: