Shaken, Not Stirred

Humorous Essays and Other Stuff

Gerald Andersen

Gerald Andersen
Califon, New Jersey, United States
January 06
"“When I have one martini, I feel bigger, wiser, taller. When I have a second, I feel superlative. When I have more, there's no holding me.” - William Faulkner "I grow old...I grow old. I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled." -T.S. Eliot


Gerald Andersen's Links

No links in this category.
MAY 1, 2012 12:18PM

Oh, Mary! We Crown Thee with Blossoms Today

Rate: 11 Flag



I just read James Emmerling's May post which revolved around a discussion of Marx and Hegel.

Having read neither, I couldn't contribute to that discussion, so I related how we celebrated May Day back at St. Aloysius High School in Jersey City, circa 1960.

I guess you wouldn't call it a celebration; it was more of observation, and centered on the crowning with flowers of a statue of the Blessed Virgin.

A  girl was chosen from the student body to actually do the deed. She wore a white dress and a tiara of white flowers. The nuns did the choosing, as I recall,  and obviously steered clear of any of the fast girls who rolled their uniform skirts up at the waist to expose more leg.

One year, I think I was a sophomore, a young lady whom I had a mad crush on was chosen. Not that I ever spoke her, since I was so shy that it was all I could do to talk to myself. However, I can still picture her with her white dress and tiara, jet black hair, pink skin and rosy lips, the very image of a Rennaisance saint. 

The entire student body was then marched over to the park across the street where we hauled a life-size statue of the Virgin. The crowning, accompanied by praying and singing, was then accomplished.

Here, in part is the song we sang:

Bring flow'rs of the fairest,
Bring flow'rs of the rarest,
From garden and woodland
And hillside and vale;
Our full hearts are swelling,
Our Glad voices telling
The praise of the loveliest
Rose of the vale.

O Mary! we crown thee with blossoms today,
Queen of the Angels, Queen of the May,
O Mary! we crown thee with blossoms today,
Queen of the Angels, Queen of the May.

Our voices ascending,
In harmony blending,
Oh! Thus may our hearts turn
Dear Mother, to thee;
Oh! Thus shall we prove thee
How truly we love thee,
How dark without Mary

Life's journey would be. 

I found the lyrics by Googling the chorus which I actually remembered after all these years.

I am not religious and no longer a practicing Catholic, but this stands out in my mind as one of the lovelier ceremonies to which we were subjected. I am sure it is rife with pagan overtones and probably in some darker time it would have ended with the young lady being sacrificed. But, for all its faults, the Church never condoned human sacrifice.

Of course, even then I welcomed it more as an opportunity to escape the classroom than for its religious significance, and, for one brief and shining moment, a chance to gaze without embarassment upon my beloved. 

Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
One of the happiest moments of my young girlhood was when I was chosen.... *sigh* Ahhh, the blessings of dressing up and crowning Mary!! I didn't even know what it all meant then, and still don't. BUT I was chosen!!!!!
Indeed Pagan overtones. Never heard anything in the mythology about the May Queen being sacrificed - she was, after all, stand-in for the Goddess. (The God and his stand-in - THEY get sacrificed!) Off now to dance the maypole!
We never had this May Day celebration with the Virgin Mary in my school. Definitely has pagan, dare I say, lustful, overtones.
oh, sir, you are a Hegelian without knowing he is an Hegelian,
which in Hegel's upside down, torturously mad German philosopher
is the perfect hegelian.
quick hegel course...
he is the guy who said put one opinion up against its opposite
both opinions deficient,
and let em smack it out
til you get the truth.
Not 'compromise'..the mighty DIALECTIC...

Pagan worship of the feminine in her Mother role.
Lusty young Gerald admiring his white clad sweetie pie.
Yet also: some odd religious ceremony going on,
no doubt hopefully beyond our Gerald's understanding..
(kinky stuff!)
Throw all this in an Hegelian mindaltering mixer...

(here is an aid:
"The significance of that 'absolute commandment', know thyself — whether we look at it in itself
or under the historical circumstances of its first utterance —
is not to promote mere self-knowledge
in respect of the particular capacities,
character, propensities,
and foibles of the single self.

The knowledge it commands
means that of man's genuine reality —
of what is essentially and ultimately true and real —
of spirit as the true and essential being."

Or, "The goal to be reached is the mind’s insight
into what knowing is.
Impatience asks for the impossible,
wants to reach the goal without the means of getting there.
The length of the journey
has to be borne with,
for every moment is necessary;
and again we must halt at every stage,
for each is itself a complete individual form,
and is fully and finally considered
only so far as its determinate character
is taken and dealt with as a rounded and concrete whole"

your gal was a concrete and rounded whole.
your school's odd , very odd i must say, celebration of may day,
was the situation for her presentation to you,
as a gentlemanly Spirit,
to enjoy...

the point of this excursion into the twisted pretzel-like
Hegelian universe is to show you
that appearance, ritual, etc,
performs duties
of the spirit
probably totally conflict with their original weird intention.

Now u, sir, are an Hegelian. God help u.
Did you get to date or marry the girl?

Rated for the Wonnemonat Mai/ Merry month of may
"and probably in some darker time it would have ended with the young lady being sacrificed."

The 1980s were tough!! ~nodding~ What? :D
OMG! How this brought back memories!!! Thanks for posting.
"The nuns did the choosing, as I recall, and obviously steered clear of any of the fast girls who rolled their uniform skirts up at the waist to expose more leg." I guess your beloved didn't wear patent leather, either? This was a sweet remembrance, Gerald. I was Protestant, and once at school we had some lame May Pole with crepe paper streamers. That's all I recall, it being, well, lame and Protestant :)
Another appropriation of pagan ritual by the RCC, Constantine was no dummy!
Your purposes were infinitely more honest and honourable than that of "the church."
This does sound like a really beautiful ceremony! And the fact that love was added to it - the religious meets the romantic. Very "courtly love". Thank you for this vision.
Nothing like a good Pagan ceremony to make the Church feel good! But you aso got to ogle the girl with the Church's blessings.
I have mixed memories of my grade school Mary pageants - they always picked the girls with the good grades and never picked the ones with a sense of humor.

I remember my dad gliding into the parking lot just a few minutes before we all had to line up to follow the girl with the good grades. I was wearing a black sweater over my dressy dress and the nun looked at me like I'd shown up naked. She dragged the sweater off me and pushed me in line and the thing started.

I did love the singing though.