August 15 – The Assumption/Sleep of Mary


In my book (and here on the blog) there are a couple of holidays I failed to mention. The reasons are multiple: I am not a member of the Orthodox church, likewise I was not raised Catholic either, and these are fairly “new” holidays.

They’ve always been religious holidays but a couple of years ago the Romanian government decided to add a few of these to the public holiday schedule, meaning that banks are closed, public transportation is on their “weekend” schedule and (by law) most people will have the day off from work.

One of these will be Monday, August 15, known in English (to Catholics and some Protestants) as the Assumption of Mary. Even if you aren’t Catholic or Orthodox, be aware that this is a now a full (secular) holiday in Romania and all government offices and banks will be closed.

From reading over the Wikipedia entry, it looks like the Catholic version of this holiday (celebrated in much of Central Europe as a public holiday as well) is a little different than the Orthodox version:

The Catholic Feast of the Assumption is celebrated on August 15, and the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholics celebrate the Dormition of the Theotokos (the falling asleep of the Mother of God) on the same date, preceded by a 14-day fast period. Eastern Orthodox Christians believe that Mary died a natural death, that her soul was received by Christ upon death, and that her body was resurrected on the third day after her death and that she was taken up into heaven bodily in anticipation of the general resurrection.

Honestly today is the very first day I’d ever heard of that.

In Romanian it is known as Adormirea Maicii Domnului, technically “The Dormition of Theotokos” but literally “The Falling Asleep of the Mother of the Lord”.

As this site correctly notes:

Despre aceasta sarbatoare nu gasim informatii in Sfintele Evanghelii, ci numai in Traditia Bisericii.

In other words, there’s not a word about any of this in the Bible, it’s just an inherited “tradition” from the history of the church (Orthodox and/or Catholic) and literally every single detail about it was just “adopted” along the way, hence why I had never heard of it.

Technically, all observant Orthodox Christians maintain a fasting period (post) for two weeks prior to this holiday. There is also supposed to be a moratorium on weddings during this fasting period as well, although I’ve personally seen a lot of people getting married in the last week, although I didn’t stop to inquire as to their religious beliefs :P

Note: For a full list of my posts about Romanian holidays, click here.

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