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Assumption Day

Assumption Day 2017 and 2018

Assumption Day has long been an Orthodox Christian holy day in the land of Romania, but only a few years ago did it become an official public holiday.

YearDateDayHoliday
201715 AugTueAssumption Day
201815 AugWedAssumption Day

The main difference for tourists will be that public transport will run on shortened schedules and certain government buildings will shut down for a day. The celebrations, however, were already large and widespread before the public holiday was formally created, and this will be only strengthened by the greater exposure gained by public holiday status.

Assumption Day comes every August 15th in Romania, and is also called by two other names: Saint Mary’s Day and Dormition of the Theotokos. The last-named name means “falling asleep of the God-bearer,” in reference to Mary’s death and her being the mother of Jesus Christ.

Orthodox devout will fast for two full weeks, 14 days, leading up to Assumption Day. And there will then be special church services and numerous colourful religious processions when the day arrives.

The cause of the celebrations is the belief that Mary’s body did not see decay but instead was miraculously transported, or “assumed,” up to Heaven by God, where it was reunited with her soul, which was already there. Alternatively, some say that Mary was resurrected bodily and taken to Heaven body-and-soul, which is a “preview” of the general resurrection awaiting believers.

The Assumption of Mary has been observed by Catholics and Orthodox of many lands since the A.D. 300’s. Symbols of the day, and of Mary, are the colour blue, to stand for the heavens, and the lily, a flower that stands for purity. It is traditional for weddings to cease during the two-week fast leading up to Assumption Day, but all do not abide by this tradition. Most Romanians will at least have an off-work day, however, since that is prescribed by law, it now being a public holiday.

Things to do in Romania during Assumption Day include:

  • Visit any of the numerous Orthodox churches in Romania that have icons or other representations of the Virgin Mary in them, including of her being assumed into Heaven. You may wish to attend the special Assumption Day services. In particular, visit the Dormition of the Theotokos Cathedral in Giurgiu or the cathedral by the same name in Cluj-Napoca. You may also wish to visit the impressively large Timișoara Orthodox Cathedral, where the archbishop resides.
  • Attend any of the many processions and religious pilgrimages that take place in Romania on Assumption Day. Moisei, Nicula, and Putna are all centres of these events. You may well see icons of Mary or other religious relics being carried through the streets.
  • Since Mary is considered to be the “patron saint of the Navy,” Assumption Day is also Navy Day in Romania. And you can see naval processions and shows in many of the country’s ports on this day.

While Assumption Day may seem an obscure holiday to many in the U.S. and Western Europe, it is a major celebration in Romania. The tourist will find many events to attend and will learn much about Romanian culture.