On Aug. 15, countries around the world will celebrate in different ways the Blessed Virgin Mary during the Feast of The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, also called the Feast of Dormition by the Eastern Orthodox Church.  In ancient times, the Assumption of Mary was celebrated by public illumination and night-time bonfires.   

In Italy, there are colorful processions through the streets and a fireworks exhibit, according to aglobal world.com.  In Sicily and rural areas outside of Rome, the processions are the main event. A group of people carry the statue of Mary, which is decorated with flowers, through the town toward another group carrying a statue of Jesus. They wait on the coming of Mary’s statue. The statues are then inclined toward each other three times.   

In San Paulo and other parts of southern Brazil the feast is called “Our Lady of the Navigators.”  Parades are held with large canoes carrying three musicians, two rowers and a purser, dressed as the Three Wise Men in the Bible.  

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Assumption Day is a also popular in the villages and the towns of Greece.  

In Poland, the feast is known as the Feast of Our Lady of Herbs. The city is decorated with bouquets of flowers and herbs. The children sing hymns in English and Polish and dance their regional dance in the church. The public holiday is also called Polish Army Day and is connected with the anniversary of the Battle of Warsaw in 1920. In fact, many of the churches have services to remember Polish soldiers who died fighting for their country. Gatherings take place at some cemeteries where readings are made in honor of dead soldiers. Another ceremonious event on Aug. 15 is the changing of the guards near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw.  

In Portugal the Assumption is called the Romeia, which includes music from brass bands and drums and bagpipes at churches. Statues of Mary Queen of Angels are crowned.  

In Searland and Bavaria, the Assumption is a public holiday. The church started the celebrations, which initially featured unique traditions that included trees and plants. The first ripped walnuts, which are called Mary’s nuts, are offered to the children. People may also go into the field to collect such herbs as agrimony, clover, mullein, mugwort, verbena and yarrow.  

The Feast of the Assumption is combined with Mother’s Day in Costa Rica.  

Guatemala also celebrates the Assumption of Mary as a public holiday. In addition to feasts, families get together and celebrate the day as a time of reflection.  

The Assumption (L’Assumption de Marie) is also a public holiday in France, whose patroness is Mary.  

In many coastal towns in England and the United States there are blessings of the water. The tradition originated in 15th century Italy, when a bishop traveling from Venice during a storm while at sea on the Feast of the Assumption prayed and threw his pastoral ring into the sea. The waters were calmed. In the U.S. celebrations take place in Atlantic City, Camden, Long Island and other cities along the eastern seaboard. In some of the “blessings of the sea” celebrations, after the priest or bishop has blessed the water, the people wade out into the water and fill bottles with it and apparently use it like holy water. In Atlantic City, the feast is called the “wedding of the sea” and part of the ceremony involves the bishop or priest throwing a wreath of flowers and a ring from a boat into the water, symbolizing the union of the city and the sea.