Feast of the Immaculate Conception
The Feast of the Immaculate Conception celebrates the solemn belief in the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is universally celebrated on December 8, nine months before the feast of the Nativity of Mary, which is celebrated on September 8. It is one of the most important Marian feasts celebrated in the liturgical calendar of the Roman Catholic Church.
By Pontifical designation and decree, it is the patronal feast day of Argentina, Brazil, Korea, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Philippines, Spain, the United States and Uruguay. By royal decree, it is also designated by as the Patroness of Portugal. It is celebrated by the Roman Catholic Church as well as a few other closely related Christian churches.
The feast was first solemnized as a Holy Day of Obligation on 6 December 1708 under the Papal Bull Commissi Nobis Divinitus by Pope Clement XI and is often celebrated with Holy Mass, parades, fireworks, processions, ethnic foods, and cultural festivities in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary and is generally considered a Family day, especially in many Catholic countries.
The feast is a public holiday in Andorra, Argentina, Austria, Chile, Colombia, East Timor, Equatorial Guinea, Guam, Italy, Liechtenstein, Macau, Malta, Monaco, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, San Marino, Seychelles, Spain, Vatican City, Venezuela, and in the Catholic Cantons of Switzerland. Some countries do not observe December 8 as a public holiday, but their respective Episcopal Conferences have declared the day as a Holy Day of Obligation in, for example, Ireland, the Philippines, and the United States.
December 8 is also celebrated as Mother’s Day in Panama in honor of the holiday and is therefore a national holiday.
The University of Dayton, in Dayton, Ohio, celebrates “Christmas on Campus” on December 8 in conjunction with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
In Leon, Nicaragua, the feast is celebrated with a tradition called Griteria composed of grand parades, fireworks, songs and various religious activities related to the conception of the Virgin Mary and her maternal role in Roman Catholicism. Similar practices are observed in various other Catholic countries.
In the Spanish colonial district of Intramuros in Manila, Philippines, the day is marked with a religious and military parade called the Grand Marian Procession, held annually by the Cofradía de la Inmaculada Concepción. Over a hundred Santo folk images of the Virgin Mary in her various titles are borne in a procession that culminates in the Plaza de Roma in front of the Manila Cathedral (which is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception).
Wikipedia contributors, “Feast of the Immaculate Conception,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed December 8, 2014).
“Paolo de Matteis-The Triumph and Glory of the Immaculate Conception” by Paolo de Matteis – Necspenecmetu.tumblr.com. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Bartolomé Esteban Murillo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.