Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer and in Jersey City, the Santa Cruzan festival is the unofficial start of the Summer Street season. Santa Cruzan is the Philippine community’s big party, and is procession and a pageant. I wrote about it last year here, and I found myself snapping pictures of the various Reynas (queens,) many of whom are selected in pageant. The festival is a Catholic with capital C and a small c – The capital C is that the celebration is for the discovery of the One True Cross by Helena, mother of Emperor of Constantine, in the second century AD. The various Reynas and other participants in the procession have additional symbolism associated with them – the “Queen” of peace for example.
The small C -- you know this may be a Big C t00 is that many of the devotions and incarnations of Mary – are recognized. The parish is like the United Nations. Everyone joins in. I watched the beginning of the procession mostly, this year, and it is fun hearing every one announced – characters from the old testament to all the Tyenas and what they mean and then finally, the Blessed Virgin Mary’s. It was a BVM-palooza!
At one point doves were released. A choir sang. Everyone was dressed in either character or regalia, which may the same thing. The Philippine community invited everyone to the party. A community of communities doesn’t explain it because that implies a separateness and mere tolerance. The interlocking relationships is the intangible here. Jersey City may not be one, but there is a lot of overlap. And there is sun, spirituality, tradition and a few laughs. Summer… no more doubts, it’s here.