Immaculate Conception Day Date: December 8
Immaculate Conception Day is a public holiday in Portugal.
The Immaculate Conception Day celebrates the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. It is celebrated on December 8, after the Nativity of Mary, which is celebrated on September 8. It is the patron feast day celebrating Nossa Senhora da Imaculada Conceição, or “Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception” in English.
History of Immaculate Conception Day
Catholicism teaches that Mary, Mother of Christ, by special grace from God, was conceived without stain from the original sin, by prediction of the miraculous events to be performed by her Son. Pope Pius IX proclaimed this doctrine as a dogma of faith in 1854. Christian art represents this special grace by depicting Mary with a foot over the Moon, Earth, or clouds and stepping on a serpent head, which symbolizes the Devil and the state of evil. The devotion to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception was brought to Portugal by D. Gilberto, first Bishop of Lisbon, in 1166. The celebration and veneration spread throughout the nation’s parishes, and in 1420, D. Nuno Álvares Pereira built a huge church dedicated to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. In 1646, the king D. João IV proclaimed officially that Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception was the nationwide patron saint of Portugal, giving special importance to the date of December 8 for all Portuguese.
Immaculate Conception Day Traditions, Customs and Activities
Daily Catholic masses are held on this day as a celebration of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, and she is remembered by most Portuguese as Our Patron Saint. Celebrations are held especially in Fatima, where it is believed that Our Lady appeared to three little shepherds in 1917. The day is mostly spent in gatherings of families or as another regular non-work day where Portuguese people take advantage of the free time for several outdoor activities. Some parishes have local vigils and organize elaborate rosaries in devotion to Our Lady.