Mary was born to be the mother of the Savior of the world, the spiritual mother of all men, and the holiest of God’screatures. Because of her Son’s infinite merits, she was conceived and born immaculate and full of grace. Through her, Queen of heaven and of earth, all grace is given to men. Through her, by the will of the Trinity, the unbelieving receive the gift of faith; the afflicted are tendered the works of mercy; and the members of Christ grow in likeness of their Head. In Mary all human nature is exalted. We rejoice in her birthday, as the Church has done from the earliest times. This is one of the three birthdays in the Church Calendar — the Birth of Jesus (December 25), the Birth of John the Baptist (June 24) and the Birthday of Mary. All three were born without original sin, although Mary and Jesus were conceived without sin, and St. John was cleansed of original sin while in the womb at the Visitation of Mary.
Birth of Mary
On Our Lady’s birthday the Church celebrates the first dawning of redemption with the appearance in the world of the Savior’s mother, Mary. The Blessed Virgin occupies a unique place in the history of salvation, and she has the highest mission ever commended to any creature. We rejoice that the Mother of God is our Mother, too. Let us often call upon the Blessed Virgin as “Cause of our joy”, one of the most beautiful titles in her litany.
Since September 8 marks the end of summer and beginning of fall, this day has many thanksgiving celebrations and customs attached to it. In the Old Roman Ritual there is a blessing of the summer harvest and fall planting seeds for this day.
The winegrowers in France called this feast “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 Alps section of Austria 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 honor of Our Lady’s Nativity.
Excerpted from The Holyday Book by Fr. Francis Weiser, SJ
Patron: All people named Mary, in any form.
Symbols: bruised serpent, sometimes encircling a globe; the lily; fleur de lis; virgin’s monogram; pierced heart; crescent moon; sun and moon; starry crown; Mater Dei; rose; flowering almond; gilly flower; snow drop; hawthorn; the star; the balsam; the Ark of the Covenant; the mirror or speculum; apple; myrtle; palm, cypress and olive; closed gate; book of Wisdom; sealed book; rod of Jesse; lily of the valley; house of gold; city of God; vessel of honor; seat of wisdom.
Things to Do:
- Learn prayers to Mary, such as the Angelus, Litany of Loreto, Memorare, Hail Mary, and Hail Holy Queen.
- Learn and sing various hymns to Mary, such as the Salve Regina, Immaculate Mary, Hail Holy Queen. See top bar for list of suggested hymns.
- Start researching and planning a Mary Garden, or a special plant or flower for each feast day of Mary. This can be for next spring, but if some bulbs are to be included, this is the time to plant them!
- Contemplate on how all the feasts of Mary point to the mysteries of Christ and our salvation history. Biblical readings: Proverbs 8:22-35 and Matthew 1:1-16 (this points to the appreciation of the heritage and family of Jesus).
- Have a birthday party for Mary, with a specially decorated birthday cake and birthday decorations. Blue is the traditional color of Mary’s mantle, so incorporating blue into the decor and food is quite appropriate. Try making an all white cake symbolizing Mary’s purity, or cookies with white icing. White meringue cookies (or kisses) would also remind one of Mary’s sinlessness. Birthday parties don’t need special explanations for children. Have each child present a “gift” to their Mother Mary, such as spiritual bouquets, faults or virtues to work on, corporal works of mercy, etc. Learn to make string knot rosaries to give as “favors.”
- Decorate the house, family table or family altar with flowers or special Marian decor.
- Eat some form of blueberries on this day, particularly in the morning — blueberry muffins or blueberry pancakes, blueberry pie or just fresh blueberries on your cereal. The blue is symbolic of Mary’s blue mantle.
- Find out about the devotion to “Maria Bambina” or “Baby Mary.”
- Women for Faith and Family have some wonderful ideas for this feastday.
- The Birth of Mary (onecatholicnews.wordpress.com)