Celebration of The Nativity of The Blessed Virgin Mary

Catholics honor the birth of Mary September 8

The birth or nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary is celebrated annually on September 8. Though there is no specific date written in the bible, history and other scriptural accounts, the 8th of September was chosen by the Eastern Church because its exactly nine months after the Feast of Immaculate Conception on December 8. The feast of the nativity is also known as the Nativity of the Most Holy Lady and the Nativity of the Theotokos for those belonging to the Orthodox Church.

The story of Mary’s conception and birth

Similar with the specific dates, stories detailing the birth of Mary are also limited. The only reference Christian’s have until today are the apocryphal texts of the Protoevangelium of James. It is said that the wealthy couple Joachim and Anna who belong to the Twelve Tribes of Israel are barren and childless for years despite their faithful devotion to the Lord. When Joachim made an attempt to make an offering to a temple in hopes of having a child, the High Priest has chastised and turned him away. Ashamed about the incident, Joachim responded by retreating and living in the hill country.

While living in the wilderness, Joachim continued his prayers to the Lord. At home, his wife Anna also prayed. And while praying, it is said that an angel appeared to both Joachim and Anna announcing the eventual conception of a child who shall become known across the world. And when Joachim decided to come home, it coincided with the birth of Mary.

Religious significance

In the Catholic tradition, only a few saints have feasts that commemorate their birthdays instead of their death. And Mary the mother of Jesus is one of them. This is because Mary is considered to be holy from her conception and birth. The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary emphasizes the relationship of God and Jesus’ family from the very beginning. It’s a pre-celebration of the near coming of mankind’s Savior or Messiah (Jesus Christ).

Christians consider Mary to be the sole creature that received the highest mission given by God, that is, the conception, birth and rearing of His son. The Nativity of Virgin Mary also lets Christians appreciate the power of God to transform barrenness to life or fruitfulness, sadness and sorrow to joy, lacking to abundance, etc.

Activities during the feast

Different Catholic and Christian communities around the world have their own way of celebrating this holiday. Since the festivity coincides with the harvest season and end of autumn, Virgin Mary is also associated with numerous harvest festivals and activities. In France, there’s a tradition of blessing and offering the best grapes harvested to Mary through her statue. For local farmers, Mary is known as “Our Lady of the Grape Harvest.” In Austria, “Drive-Down Day” which is a caravan full of animals, decorations and various types of food is a tradition.

Former Spanish colonies in Latin America and Asia celebrate the festivity by dressing statues including little girls like the young Mary. Liturgical masses, processions and feasting are also present. The Catholic communities in Goa, India are among those which have a thanksgiving-like celebration centered on the family and they call it the Monti Fest. There are also communities which prepare an actual birthday party for the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Resources

Follow the Conversation on Twitter