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Celebrating Assumption Day in France

On Assumption Day, France celebrates the rising of Mary, the mother of Jesus, into Heaven. For this reason, it’s often called Assumption of Mary Day.

The Assumption Holy Day reflects the strong Catholic nature of France, being one of the most popular and heavily celebrated holidays in the country. Even non-Catholics like to participate in the fun, often as a final party before the end of summer.

Learn all about The Assumption of Mary Feast Day with, and become more familiar with French culture as a whole. We hope to make this learning journey both fun and informative!

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1. What is Assumption Day?

Assumption celebrates Jesus’s mother, Mary, rising up to Heaven.

As such, the French also recognize Assumption Day as the name day for those named Mary (the most-given name of the twentieth century in France). Since 1946, this name has been given more than two-million times to little French girls!

But is the Assumption a holy day of obligation? Yes, it is; but if the date happens to fall on a Monday or Saturday of a given year, people are not expected to attend the mass.

2. When is Assumption Day?

Man Holding Bible

The date of Assumption in France holds much historical significance.

In the sixth century, the Byzantine emperor Maurice established the Feast Day of the Virgin Mary in his empire every day on August 15. The holiday was introduced to the West by Pope Theodore in the seventh century, and took the name of Assumption starting the following century.

In 1637, King Louis XIII wanted an heir, so he asked his subjects to make a procession every August 15 in every parish, so that his prayer would be granted. Because King Louis XIII’s request was granted the following year, the holiday on August 15 took on special importance.

3. French Assumption Day Traditions

A Church Building

Every year, religious processions have taken place in certain cities in France. For example, after mass, pilgrims carry a statue of the Virgin Mary in the streets and around the neighborhood. On Assumption Day, Paris hosts a procession that has taken place for a few years, on a boat in the Seine, where the silver statue of the Virgin kept in Notre-Dame is taken out.

Though Assumption is a Catholic holiday, even the non-religious in France celebrate. The most common secular celebrations include fireworks in popular cities and neighborhood dances, most of which are free to attend.

During Assumption, the city of Lourdes experiences its busiest day of the year!

4. The End of Summer…

Assumption Day is often associated with the end of summer and the coming of autumn and winter.

As such, there are many sayings about Assumption Day, such as À la mi-août, adieu les beaux jours (meaning “In mid-August, say goodbye to good weather,” in English) and à la mi-août, l’hiver est en route (meaning “In mid-August, winter is on the way,” in English). Indeed, August 15 also symbolizes a summer well-spent, and the approaching autumn.

5. Useful Vocabulary for Assumption Day in France

Virgin Mary in Stained Glass

Here’s the most important vocabulary you should know to celebrate Assumption Day in France!

  • Église — “Church”
  • Assomption — “Assumption Day”
  • Chrétien — “Christian”
  • Assomption — “Assumption”
  • Croyance — “Belief”
  • Dogme — “Dogma”
  • Célébrer — “Celebrate”
  • Festin — “Feast”
  • Jour férié — “Public holiday”
  • Paradis — “Heaven”
  • Vierge Marie — “Virgin Mary”
  • Mort — “Death”

To hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, check out our French Assumption Day vocabulary list! You’ll also find a relevant image with each word to help you remember more effectively!

Conclusion: How FrenchPod101 Can Help You Master French

We hope you enjoyed learning about Assumption Day in France with us! Does your country have an Assumption Day celebration, too? If so, are traditions similar or very different from those in France? Let us know in the comments!

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