Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary by Pietro Perugino
Dates of Mary's Birthday
This holiday is always celebrated on 8 September. It is national holiday in Malta, and is known as the 'Feast of Our Lady of Victories'. It is a regional holiday in Spain in Asturias, Melilla and Extremadura. It is also the national day of Andorra (Meritxell Day) and is a public holiday in Liechtenstein.
It marks the Feast Day of the nativity (birth) of the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus.
The date of birth of Mary is not recorded in the bible. The earliest writings about her life come from the 'Protoevangelium of James' which was written in the 2nd century AD. In this, her father is said to be Joachim, a member of one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel and his wife is Anne.
Though it's not sure which date was decided first, the nativity of Mary is not surprisingly exactly nine months after the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary (8 December).
This feast day originated in Jerusalem in the 5th century as the feast of the Basilica of Saint Anne, which was said to have been built on the shepherd's field that was said to have been the home of Mary's parents.
By the seventh century, the feast was being celebrated by the Byzantines and it was brought to Rome during the 7th century by Eastern monks. It would be a few more centuries before it became a feast day across Western Europe.
Another important feast day for Mary is Assumption day (15 August) which marks the assumption of her body into Heaven. This is seen as the most important feast day for Mary and observed in many countries as a public holiday. Due to the closeness of the dates of Assumption and the Nativity of Mary, the latter is not as widely celebrated as it once was.
Christians normally celebrate the day on which saints died to mark the beginning of their eternal life. There are three exceptions - Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, and Saint John the Baptist. Their births are also feast days as all three were born without Original Sin.
In Malta, this day is a national holiday. While Malta also celebrates the two other notable Catholic feast days of Mary as public holidays, 8 September also marks the end of the Great Siege of Malta in 1565 when the Knights of Malta defeated the Ottoman Empire forces. It also marks the date of the surrender of Italian forces in 1943 during World War II, with a flotilla of Italian ships surrendering in Malta.
From 1923 until 1974, this was Malta's national day.