"May crowning" activities can be a festive way to invite children to learn more about their faith and celebrate spring. In the Roman Catholic Church, two special celebrations related to the Virgin Mary occur during the month of May: the Feast of Our Lady and the Commemoration of the Visitation. Before Catholicism, the first day of May was a pagan holiday welcoming the floral beginning of spring. "May Day," then and now, was ushered in with Maypoles, daisy crowns and outdoor frolics of all kinds for young people. Incorporating elements from both the Catholic and more general spring celebrations can create fun activities for children.
Catholic churches often mark the May Crowning with a recitation of the daily rosary and an altar decorated with flowers. Children can gain a deeper sense of the joy and meaning of this holiday by creating their own temporary altar for Mary at home. You just supply the materials -- let them arrange a colorful tablecloth, statue of Mary and other icons or tokens of respect on a table. Guide them outside to a yard or field to gather a bouquet of fresh flowers that they can then place on their home altar to show their admiration for Mary. For an easy bouquet holder, twist a white paper doily into a cone and fasten with a flower sticker.
Traditionally, one girl was chosen to crown each individual church’s statue of Mary. But many churches now include all children in this ritual. If so, each child can bring a beautiful flower to the service. Place a foam or wire wreath on top of the Virgin Mary statue, and allow each child to crown the statue by tucking a flower into the wreath. Adults can stand by to help tuck and arrange the flowers as needed. After everyone gets the chance to add a blossom to the crown, gather together to share a song or prayer honoring Mary. If there’s time, children can share why they selected their particular flower. If an actual crown isn’t practical, children can leave their flowers at Mary’s feet.
Children can enjoy a springtime parade to celebrate the May Crowning. Participants can wear a favorite sundress or other festive garment. Depart from the church or classroom in single file, with everyone carrying their special flower. It doesn’t have to be a long parade; if time is short, take a small stroll around the playground or park. The May Crowning revelers can sing a song honoring Mary, such as “Ave Maria." Consider asking a parent volunteer to strum a guitar or ukulele during the march. Form a human “crown” by having everyone join hands in a circle to share a reflective moment.
Creative Arts Recital
Before crowning, older children can share a poem they’ve written about the Virgin Mary or a poem they’ve written to celebrate their own mothers. They can also read sections from the Bible or other respected texts to honor Mary, including The Magnificat (Canticle of Mary), The Memorare, The Angelus, and The Prayer to Mary, Queen of Peace. Younger children can recite the Hail Mary or another short tribute to Mary before crowning the church’s Mary statue. For a non-religious celebration, children can share poems about spring, rain or flowers.
- Photo Credit Ariel Skelley/Blend Images/Getty Images
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