Celebrating Mary’s Birth

Birth of St Mary c.1475(detail) by Domenico Ghirlandaio

Mary’s birthday is celebrated on September 8th. Christians have kept this happy day for centuries, initially in Syria and Jeruslaem around the sixth century and gradually it spread through the whole church. September 8th seems to be have chosen because a church in honour of Mary was consecrated in Jerusalem on this day.

Here are words from a sermon of St Andrew of Crete for the feast:

Let the whole creation therefore sing praise and dance and unite to celebrate the glories of this day. Today let there be one common feast of those in heaven and those on earth. Let everything that is, in the world and above the world, join together in rejoicing. For today a shrine is built for the Creator of the universe. The creature is newly made ready as a divine dwelling for the Creator.

Throughout history Christians have often connected their daily work with feast days. In the northern hemisphere September 8 marks for many the end of summer and the beginning of Autumn. In our Christian tradition this day has many thanksgiving celebrations and customs attached to it. In older books of Ritual there is a blessing of the summer harvest and fall planting seeds for this day.

French Tapestry c.1500 showing the Grape Harvest

For winegrowers in France this feast is often called “Our Lady of the Grape Harvest.” The best grapes are brought to the local church to be blessed and then some bunches are attached to hands of the statue of Mary. A festive meal which includes the new grapes is part of this day.

In the Austrian Alps this day is “Drive-Down Day” during which the cattle and sheep are led from their summer pastures in the slopes and brought to their winter quarters in the valleys. This was usually a large caravan, with all the finery, decorations, and festivity. In some parts of Austria, milk from this day and all the leftover food are given to the poor in honour of Our Lady’s Nativity.

Pray: Say the Angelus today, giving thanks for Mary.

Action: Consider how you, like the people in Austria can donate food to the needy. Perhaps through a harvest appeal.

Consider: Is there a special feast day that would connect with your work or life that you could celebrate?

About stchrysostoms

St Chrysostom’s is an Anglican (Church of England) parish church in Manchester, UK. We’re an inclusive, diverse and welcoming faith community rejoicing in our Anglo Catholic tradition, where people of many differing backgrounds make friends. Find our Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/2364267899/
This entry was posted in Anglican, Anglo Catholic, Catholic, Mary and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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