The Feast of Immaculate Conception – public holiday on 8 of December
December 8 is one of the most important dates in the Christian liturgical calendar.
Unlike most people tend to think, the celebration regards not the conception of Jesus Christ itself, but the merit of Mary of Nazareth, who became the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The explanation of the Immaculate Conception:
On the day dedicated to one of the most important doctrines of the Catholic faith special services are held in churches, with local variations. In Spain, for example, by the explicit permission from Pope Pius VII priests are allowed to use blue vests during the liturgy to mark the occasion.
Processions in which the sculpture of Blessed Virgin Mary is carried through the streets are also popular in many Catholic countries worldwide.
The most famous celebration, however, of the Feast of Immaculate Conception takes place in Rome, where it is already a tradition for the Pope to visit the Column of the Immaculate Conception, located at the bottom of the Spanish Steps in Rome.
The Immaculate Conception is a very solemn occasion and, other than celebrated officially in church, in most Christian communities it is observed by spending time with family.
In some Central and Southern American countries, the festivity has an impact on the popular culture. In Nicaragua, for example, the Christians build set up altars at the entrance to their homes and distribute gift and candies to their neighbours passing by. In the evening firecrackers are lit to mark the occasion.
In Europe the Immaculate Conception festivities are limited mostly to the celebrations in churches, although some parishes may organize neighbourhood parties.
8 of December is a public holiday in many countries of the Catholic tradition, amongst them in: Argentina, Chile, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Columbia, Venezuela, Malta and Portugal. Blessed Virgin Mary is the Patroness of Portugal and other Portuguese language countries.