Immaculate Conception is a Roman Catholic holy day and a public holiday in Spain. The holiday falls on 8 December every year and is often thought of as the beginning of the Christmas season in Spain.
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The basis of the holiday is the Catholic belief that Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, was herself born sinless. More specifically, the doctrine states that she was born “without any stain of original sin.”
From early tradition, it is taken that Mary’s mother was Anne, now “Saint Anne,” and that her father was named Joachim. An angel is said to have appeared to Mary’s parents and informed them they would have a daughter whom “the world would honour.” It is also said that Saint Anne had earlier been childless and that she pledged Mary to God’s service from her birth.
The first celebrations of Immaculate Conception date at least to the 8th Century A.D., though earlier traditions were already developing concerning Mary being conceived without sin. Controversy, however, swirled around the issue for centuries until 1854, when Pope Pius IX settled the issue for Roman Catholics.
Special masses will be held on or near 8 December in Spain, and you will see images of Mary being paraded through the streets. Predominantly, however, Immaculate Conception is a family day in Spain, so you will see many families out walking and spending the day together.