In August we celebrated the Assumption of Mary—her entrance into heaven. That occurance is so monumental that it’s a holy day of obligation. Entering eternal life is certainly a bigger deal than being born on this earth; yet tomorrow, the Church celebrates Mary’s earthly birthday. In light of all Our Lady’s great feasts, it begs the question, why do we celebrate this “lesser” feast?
Why Do We Celebrate the Birth of Mary?
According to St. Augustine, human nature is restored to its intended form (free from sin) in the conception and birth of Our Lady. It’s not anything she did herself to accomplish this, it’s all what God has done through her. It’s not even something He did to specifically benefit her; it was something He did to benefit all of humanity. Because Mary’s pure human nature is then what is handed down to her Son—and it is through His Passion and the Sacraments that the nature of all mankind is redeemed—Mary’s birthday really is a very big deal. It is the dawning of God’s new creation: our redemption.
Ways to Celebrate Our Lady’s Birthday
What better way to show your gratitude for this great gift than to celebrate Mary’s birthday within your own day? Here are ten ways to start the party in your home or “on-the-go.”
1. Incorporate Family Traditions
Growing up, my family had a special “celebration” plate which was only used on special occasions. For our birthdays, it could always be found set at our place at the family table. For Christmas, we would use the plate to set an extra place at the table for Baby Jesus. This tradition could easily be carried over to Mary’s birthday as well. Now, within my “adult” home, we have a handmade fabric “Happy Birthday” banner which adorns our walls for any family birthdays. Tomorrow, it will hang in honor of our Heavenly Mother.
2. Dress in Blue
During my undergraduate career, I was required to read a book about the philosophy of beauty. In one of the passages, I read about the color blue and how the only resources artists within a particular region had to create paint in this specific color was to crush precious gems. Thus, blue pant was expensive and scarce. It was only used in the most important of circumstances. Use of the color was a tactic used by the artist to draw specific attention to that item or person.
As a Catholic, I couldn’t help but think of Our Lady and how she is often depicted wearing blue within sacred art. Did this practice start within this said particular region? Were these artists responsible for Mary’s traditional depiction in a blue mantel? Probably not. However, this piece of history definitely helps me meditate on the importance of the the Blessed Virgin, and thus I enjoy wearing something blue on all of her feast days.
3. Bake a Cake
You don’t have to be super creative to celebrate Our Lady’s birthday. Be traditional! Bake a cake and eat it with family and friends in her honor. Make it as simple or complicated as you’d like!
4. Make a Donation
Find a trusted Marian organization (ie: Mary’s Meals, a Carmelite order, etc.) and make a monetary donation in her honor as a birthday gift.
5. Go to Mass
Mary says very little within the Gospels. Everything she does say directs all the glory and attention to her Son. She wants us to know and love Him. Thus, what better birthday gift to give to Our Lady than to go to Mass and receive her Son in the Eucharist?
6. Pray a Flying Novena
Typically a novena is said over the course of nine days. In the case of a flying novena, the Memorare is said nine times in a row calling on the intercession of Our Lady. Since Mary asks us often to pray for the conversion of sinners, pray a flying novena with this as your intention as a gift for her on her birthday. She would surely be grateful for this act of service.
7. Consecrate Yourself to Mary
If you haven’t done so already, consider consecrating yourself to the Blessed Virgin. There are numerous resources to help you explore your options and decide whether you’d like to be her devoted servant. The Saints all declare there is no surer way to holiness.
8. Wear a Marian Medal
Being a cradle Catholic, I own a plethora of religious medals, as they are often given to me as gifts. If I was to wear every single medal I own daily, I might develop neck problems from the extreme weight of the chain around my neck. Thus, I keep the majority of my medals in my jewelry box and switch them out from time to time. Something that I wasn’t expecting when I began this practice was how aware I would become of my own spiritual needs as well as the liturgical calendar. Some days I make my choice based on which Saint I feel as though I need to intercede for me. Other days I base my choice solely on the feast day. Tomorrow, I’ll don one of my Marian medals.
9. Make a Pilgrimage
Most churches have a grotto on their grounds dedicated to Our Lady. Take time during your day to stop and visit her there (remembering that a pilgrimage is never convenient and often comes with obstacles). If there is no grotto, there is sure to be a Marian statue within the church itself. Spend some quality time in prayer with your mother. Pray a rosary or write her a letter in your prayer journal as a type of birthday card.
10. Buy Some Roses
In almost every Marian apparition, Our Lady appears with roses. She’s also revealed within numerous private revelations that her Heavenly crown is made of roses. In fact that’s where the “Rosary” got its name. Buy a dozen roses in her honor and gift them to someone who could use a reminder of Heaven’s love. Or take them with you on your “pilgrimage” and leave them at her feet.
We shouldn’t feel silly for celebrating Mary’s birthday—she’s our Momma! Take some time tomorrow to show Our Lady some love.
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Grace Bellon is a lover of bearded men, rich coffee, cheesy puns, cuddly doggies, and Catholicism. You can find out more about her here (warned ya she liked cheesy puns).