Feast of the Immaculate Conception Date: December 8
Feast of the Immaculate Conception is a religious observance for Christians all over the world.
On December 8, Christians all over the world celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. It is a day to celebrate the dogma of the conception of Mary, mother of Jesus, without any stain of the original sin.
History of the Immaculate Conception
On December 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX in the Constitution Innefabilis Deus stated that Mary, as Mother of Jesus Christ by a singular privilege and grace granted by God and previewing the merits of Jesus Christ, at the moment of her conception was preserved from all stain of the original sin. Therefore, as many people mistakenly think, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception isn’t about the conception of Jesus, celebrated on March 25. Instead, it is based on the conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The first celebrations of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception were organized by the early Church in Palestine during the seventh century, which at the time celebrated it more in focus with the role of the Virgin Mary in the history of Salvation than just the fact that her conception was indeed immaculate from the original sin. Later the feast spread to Christian the world within the monastic communities. Gradually the feast was celebrated in the cathedrals and later was finally approved by the Church and State as a holiday.
For years there was discussion among theologians about the exactitude of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. This led to delays in accepting the feast in many dioceses in Europe, and only in 1854 was the case settled and the Feast accepted universally. In 1847, Pope Pius IX proclaimed Mary, under the title of her Immaculate Conception, as patroness of the United States. Since then the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is the patron feast of the United States.
Many Eastern Orthodox Christians celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 9, placing the conception of Mary nine months less one day from the feast of her birth on September 8. The omitted day symbolizes that Mary was not in whole perfect as a human.
Feast of the Immaculate Conception Traditions, Customs and Activities
The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is a public holiday in many countries, and it is a holy day of obligation for all Christians, meaning that they are obliged to participate in Mass and abstain from work that will disturb their focus on God through mind and body.
The predominant color for the day is white, and Christian communities emphasize the day with celebrations dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and spending time with family. In some countries there are processions which initiate the celebrations of Christmas. In Spain there is a tradition called the Dance of the Six in which young children dressed in jeweled clothes run through the streets holding a large figure of Mary as high as they can.
In Nicaragua the faithful set up altars at the entrance of their homes as a sign of thankfulness for the favors that the Virgin Mary has showed them during the year, while this neighbors come to the altar and sing songs to receive gifts and candies. In the afternoon around 6 p.m., people light up firecrackers in the streets in celebration of the day. Around Europe, since this is a non-working day in many countries, there are several cultural initiatives organized by the local dioceses. It is day to celebrate Mother Mary and look forward to Christmas.
For many years this day was celebrated as Mother’s Day, and it still is in Panama. However, it has been recently moved to the second Sunday of May in many Christian countries.