Many Catholic adults, particularly women, have fond memories of the May Crownings of their childhoods. This is a beautiful tradition to pass onto young Catholics. In doing so, why not tap into a resource of people who already know and love this custom? Invite to your classroom people from the parish who are interested in participating in a May Crowning with your young students.
Before the event, gather materials:
- A statue of Mary
- Blue cloth (if possible, velvet, satin or spangled with stars)
- Several vases (size dependent on the size of flowers you use)
- Crown (if time permits, have one of your guests and students make the crown of silk flowers)
- Flowers (real or silk); or potted flowering plants such as African violets, or potted bulbs such as hyacinth
- Table or other surface to hold the statue
- Picture book of Mary
Mary, the Mother of Jesus by Tomie de Paola is readily available and has wonderful illustrations of Mary at different points in her life; if time is limited, you can just look at each illustration and paraphrase the text;
Be aware that there is one small illustration of a mother weeping over a child slain because of Herod’s order. It is not explicit by any means and it is with a much larger and assuring illustration of Mary and little Jesus in Egypt but if you choose to show that picture, be prepared for questions.
If your event can be more elaborate, consider obtaining:
- a small pillow for carrying the crown
- streamers of blue ribbons for children to wave
- small flowers to put into children’s hair or to clutch.
- refreshments, such as cookies or cake
If possible, find a musician to lead the songs, or play piano or guitar at the May Crowning. There are traditional songs for May Crownings. Two examples are Hail, Holy Queen Enthroned Above and Immaculate Mary. Look in a parish songbook or online. Some of your guests may remember the melodies if you supply the words.
On the day of the big event, have all materials ready. However, keep fresh or silk flowers back. As people arrive, inquire of a few guests if they would be willing to talk briefly about their memories of May Crownings from their childhoods. Find one adult open to be the crown bearer and another to crown the statue. This takes away any competition amongst the children for these honored roles.
When all have arrived, gather children and guests together and read the picture book. Hold the statue for the children to see and explain that to honor Mary, you will be creating a beautiful prayer service, called a May Crowning.
Next, encourage everyone to begin work on setting up. Some can spread the blue cloth, others can make the crown, get the refreshments set up for later, etc. If you have real flowers, an adult and children can get water for the vases and place the vases near the statue when the altar is ready. Take time to create a pretty setting.
When all is ready, assemble as a group, modeling a reverent but joyful attitude. Say the ‘Hail Mary” together. Then give children the flowers and have them process to the altar, bringing flowers and placing them in vases. Encourage adults to sing as they do this. After all the flowers have been placed in vases, have the chosen adults process to the altar for the actual crowning.
Sing another song, wave streamers and enjoy the beauty. When finished, celebrate with a bit of a feast!