The feast of the Immaculate Conception is a holy day in the Catholic Church that is celebrated every year on December 8th. It is a day that shows just how important a figure the Virgin Mary is to Latinos and Catholics all over the world. You may be thinking right off the bat that the feast of the Immaculate Conception is the day that Mary was impregnated with Christ but that is a popular mistake that people make. In fact the feast of the Immaculate Conception celebrates Mary’s own birth.
Feast of the Immaculate Conception – Reasoning
It seemed incumbent for the Catholic Church to stress the special way not only that Christ was born, but also the unique and holy way that his mother was born as well. In 1854 Pope Pius IX made it dogma the concept of Mary’s birth: she was not born of a virgin birth but at her conception, she was absolved of the original sin that tarnished every human being upon conception.
This was necessary if she was to ultimately become the virgin mother of the messiah. This exception not only made her conception holy, but her entire life as well because it was also accepted as Dogma that Mary never sinned a day in her life and was kept consecrated so that she could give the purest of births to Christ.
This is another reason why Mary is prayed to and seen as such an important figure in the Catholic Church. She is the only human being to have never committed one transgression against God.
Immaculate Conception Day
Now that we have a bit of background on the feast of the Immaculate Conception let’s talk about how it is celebrated and why it is important in the Latin community. Immaculate Conception day has actually been made a public holiday in many Latin countries. However, no matter what country you are in, if you are of the Catholic faith the feast of the Immaculate Conception is a day of obligation. This means that mass must be attended. The mass is the focal point of the celebration.
It is celebrated in different ways all over the world. For example, one tradition of the holiday is The Dance of the Six which is essentially a procession of children dressed in especially bejeweled garments carry a likeness of Mary over their heads through the streets.
In Nicaragua, the day resembles what we Americans would see as a combination of 2 big holidays in our country. They set up alters in front of their homes and neighbors come by and sing songs and to exchange gifts. Kind of sounds like carolers on Christmas right? When the evening falls, firecrackers are lit in the streets. Sort of sounds like Independence Day doesn’t it?
At any rate, no matter where you are or how you celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception, there is a very strong, spiritual unifying theme that is present. At its heart the feast of the Immaculate Conception is a day to focus on one’s own spirituality and relationship with god. This is why it is so important in Latino culture.
We are meant to draw closer to god by drawing closer to our family and focusing on being more like Mary and Christ. For more information about the traditions of this holiday check out Little Candles Day in Colombia.