This Saturday, August 15, marks the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary—the day when our dear Mama Mary’s body ascended into heaven at the end of her life.
According to a timeline of this holy day, Pope Leo IV made the Feast of the Assumption official in the 8th century. Acadian leaders picked August 15 as the day to celebrate St. Mary in 1881, and Pope Pius XXII defined her Assumption as a dogma of faith (“that Mary, who was without sin, was taken, body and soul, into the glory of heaven,” says loyolapress.com) in 1950.
Here are other fun facts about what is regarded as the oldest feast day of the Blessed Virgin Mary. (Read: Pinoy celebrities share how their devotion to Mama Mary worked miracles in their lives)
It is one of the three feast days of Mama Mary.
The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is one of three feast days that celebrate the life of the mother of Jesus. The other two are the Solemnity of Mary the Holy Mother of God on January 1, and the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8. All three are holy days of obligation.
This feast day was previously known by other names. According to stjohntheevangelist.com, Memory of Mary was commemorated in Palestine. Come the 7th century, Rome recognized it as Falling Asleep (“Dormitio”) of the Mother of God. Eventually, it was called the Assumption of Mary because, as Pope Pius XXII said, she was taken up, body and soul, into heaven.
Delicious meals get to be served on this special day.
This feast day is literally a feast day! Commemorate Mama Mary with dishes made especially for her solemn occasion: there’s the Assumption Salad—a hearty bowl of greens and fruits like oranges and dates doused with a dressing of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, grapefruit juice, and pinches of sugar and fresh ground pepper; Assumption Shortcake—a sweet treat whose ingredients symbolize something of Mary (blueberries for the Marian color, strawberries for the suffering Mary bore in her heart, chocolate chips for the sweetness of life in heaven, yellow sprinkles for her crown); and Pineapple Rosemary Agua Fresca—a tasty thirst-quencher of juicy pineapple chunks and the lemon-pine flavor of rosemary. (Read: These three Filipino fiesta staples will make you hungry!)
The Assumption of Mary is often associated with flowers and herbs.
Photo from Urban Adventures
Attending Mass to honor Mama Mary’s day is one way to celebrate. But others go all out, according to urbanadventures.com. In Krakow, Poland, it’s known as the Lady of Flowers as the belief is that Mary did not die but fell asleep and woke up in Heaven. Flowers and herbs were found on her grave on Earth. Coincidentally, August 15 is the day Polish Armed Forces won the Battle of Warsaw in 1920. Mid-August also signals the start of the harvest season in Poland. (Read: Here’s Why You Must Try Urban Gardening, According to Miss PH Earth 2020)
As such, herbs and flowers—as well as a lot of dancing and drinking—are givens of the colorful festival. Some 300 km away in Warsaw, the faithful celebrate the occasion the same way, only by a different name—the Lady of Herbs.
In Palma de Mallorca, Spain, churches remain open all day so the faithful may reflect upon images of the sleeping virgin. Rituals, stage presentations, and other activities are also organized.
In Romania, the Assumption of Mary is a national public holiday. Also known as the Feast of the Harvest, patron saint of the Navy, the occasion sees a spectacular parade of navy ships, helicopters, divers, and parachutists held in Romania’s Constanta port.