The Feast of the Assumption of Mary (Fête de l’Assomption) celebrates the Christian belief that God assumed the Virgin Mary into heaven after her death on August 15.
Is Assumption of Mary a Public Holiday?
The assumption of Mary is not a public holiday. It falls on Sunday, August 15, 2021, and most businesses follow regular Sunday opening hours in Canada.
What Do People Do?
Many Christians attend mass (church service) and have feasts to celebrate Assumption Day on August 15. Some celebrate the feast of the Assumption by going on a pilgrimage to Rama, Saskatchewan to visit the Grotto of Our Lady of the Assumption (shrine) that replicates the famous grotto in Lourdes, France. Some of the Orthodox Churches in Canada fast from August 1 to August 14 to honour the Assumption of Mary.
In the Canadian Maritime provinces, the Assumption of Mary is also the national day for Acadians. There are many parades, concerts, cultural activities, food festivals, competitions, and tintamarre – noise parades to celebrate August 15. Tintamarre is a parade where Acadians show their national pride by beating on the tin bottoms of old pots and pans, blowing whistles, decorating their cars, and dressing up in costumes.
What’s Open or Closed?
Assumption Day is not a public holiday in Canada so schools, government offices and businesses are open. Public transport providers run to their usual schedules. Some businesses are closed in parts of New Brunswick, Canada on August 15.
About the Day
Assumption Day is considered a Holy Day of Obligation that observes the belief that when the Virgin Mary died, she was “assumed” into heaven. The Orthodox Churches believe in the Dormition of the Theotokos (falling asleep of the Mother of God) that at the end of her life, Mary was physically taken up into heaven. Assumption Day is an important day for Christians because it is considered the Virgin Mary’s heavenly birthday – the day that Mary was received into heaven.
In the Canadian Maritime provinces, Acadians celebrate the Assumption of Mary and also declare August 15 their national day. The date August 15 was chosen as their national day because the Acadians view the Virgin Mary as their patron saint. They wanted to distinguish themselves from other French Canadians to emphasize their unique cultural and historical identity. National Acadian Day was approved by the Vatican in January 1938 and was officially accepted by the Parliament of Canada in June 2003.
Some churches in Canada are named in memory of the Assumption of Mary. The Acadians celebrate August 15 with their national anthem, Ave Maris Stella, and their national flag inserts a gold star that represents the Virgin Mary in the blue section of the French Tricolor flag.