Assumption of Mary, or simply “Assumption Day,” is a public holiday in Spain and a major religious festival across the country. It is the most important Marian feast day on the calendar, and is celebrated every 15 August.
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The holiday is based on the belief that the body of Mary, the mother of Jesus, did not undergo decay but was immediately transported to Heaven and reunited there with her soul. The holiday has been kept since the 4th Century A.D., as an attempt to replace an earlier pagan harvest festival. This is why it is still called the “Feast of Our Lady of the Harvest” in certain regions of Europe.
However, it was not until 1950 that the doctrine of the assumption of Mary was declared Catholic dogma by Pope Pious XII, and the Assumption Day has only been widely celebrated in Spain since the 1700’s.
The Assumption of Mary celebrations begin in Spain on 11 August and culminate on 15 August with a large street party in Madrid being the highlight. Throughout Spain, you will find fairs, parades with marching bands, kids’ games, foot races through the public streets, dancing, costume contests, and general family fun.