The Catholic practice of assigning a special devotion to each month goes back to the early 16th century. Since the best known of those devotions is probably the dedication of May as the month of the Blessed Virgin Mary, it might come as a surprise that it wasn't until the late 18th century that this devotion arose among Jesuits in Rome. In the early years of the 19th century, it quickly spread throughout the Western Church, and, by the time of Pope Pius IX's declaration of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in 1854, it had become universal.
May crownings and other special events in May in honor of Mary, such as public recitation of the rosary, stem from this time. Sadly, such communal events are more rare today, but we can take the month of May as an opportunity to renew our own devotion to the Mother of God by dusting off our rosaries and adding a few more Marian prayers to our daily routine.
Parents, in particular, should encourage Marian devotion in their children, since the non-Catholic Christians they encounter today often downplay (if not denigrate) the role that the Blessed Virgin played in our salvation through her fiat--her joyous "Yes" to the will of God.
(Statue of Mary, Queen of May, at the May Crowning at Saint Mary's Oratory, Rockford, Illinois, on May 18, 2008. Photo © Scott P. Richert)