Traditions - General Info
Assumption - Religious feast and public holiday
Assumption, an ancient tradition
The Assumption of Mary to Heaven - Assomption of de la Vierge Marie is a Catholic liturgical feast.
It takes place on August 15th to celebrate the ascent to Heaven of the body and soul of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Jesus.
The first church dedicated to Mary was consecrated in Jerusalem on August 15th during the 4th century (the year is though unknown).
This ancient tradition, however, is not based on any New Testament writings, but on an ancient tradition.
It became a liturgical feast in the 7th century, and was defined by a religious dogma on November 1st, 1950.
Death of Mary
According to tradition, Mary met an angel on the Mont des Olives in Jerusalem.
The angel gave her a branch of the Tree of Life, a symbol of immortality, and announced her impending death.
Mary returned home to her relatives and soon the Apostles came back from the four corners of the Christian World to support her.
When the time came, Jesus appeared, surrounded by angels, to receive the soul of his mother, whom he gave to the Archangel Michael.
The Apostles then buried the body of Mary at the foot of the Mount of Olives.
According to tradition, Mary's body remained intact after her death and Jesus returned a few days later to take her body and sould to Heaven.
According to Hyppolite of Thebes, Mary lived for 11 years after the death of Jesus, and therefore died in 41 AD.
Eastern Christians consider the Church of the Sepulcher of St. Mary, or Tomb of the Virgin Mary, which is located at the foot of Mount of Olives, as her burial place.
How do French people celebrate the Assumption?
Many French churches are dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, and therefore celebrate each year on August 15th with a Mass, followed by a procession and various festivities.
The Assumption is a Holy Day of Obligation for French Catholics, and a public holiday, therefore be aware that most businesses are closed.
This includes post offices, state administrations, banks, stores etc...
Restaurants and cafes may also be closed, except in the tourist areas and cities, and some guided tours might not run.
On the other hand, airports and railway stations are open, but public transport service schedules may be affected, so better check before hand.