Rejoice! It’s the Nativity of Mary!

It’s your Mother’s birthday, and it’s time to celebrate!

(photo: Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449–1494) / Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain)

“The day of the Nativity of the Mother of God is a day of universal joy, because through the Mother of God, the entire human race was renewed, and the sorrow of the first mother, Eve, was transformed into joy.”

This quote from St. John Damascene perfectly describes the reason we celebrate the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary each year on Sept. 8. Had Mary not been born, the Incarnation would not have taken place. She was chosen by God from all eternity for just that purpose — to conceive, bear within her womb, and give birth to the Christ, the Savior of all mankind. Eve’s actions caused the fall of man, while Mary’s actions made possible the redemption of man. That indeed is cause for universal joy. 

It’s fitting, then, that we take time out of our day and put in extra effort to make Mary’s birthday truly special — for us as well as for her. Here are several things you can do to celebrate the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 

Thank her. Expressing our gratitude to someone requires humility. We realize our own limitations and the fact that the other person has done something for us that we may not have either thought about or been able to do for ourselves. Whether subtle or blatant, it shows a degree of indebtedness. We’re most certainly indebted to Mary for her yes to God’s request and her surrender to his holy will. 

How you express your gratitude is a personal choice. You can simply thank her in your own words privately and spontaneously. You might want to include it in your daily prayers. Or you could choose to pray together as a family and offer your thanks to Mary together during your family prayers. 

Show your appreciation. Since Mary needs nothing from us materially, there is not much we can give her as a birthday present per se. But we can give to others in her honor. All good mothers have great joy when their children are kind to each other. Do an act of love or charity for someone in your life and offer it to the Blessed Mother as a gift. You might want to adorn your home’s prayer corner with flowers in her honor or place a bouquet in front of the Mary statue in your parish church or a Marian shrine if there is one near you. The flowers will be a reminder of the importance of Mary’s special day. If “real” flowers are not doable, give Mary a spiritual bouquet of prayers and sacrifices throughout the day. You might even want to offer those sacrifices for someone who has difficulty having a relationship with Mary. 

Celebrate! Whether as a family, group of friends, or individual, have a festive meal. Have something that is not normally on your menu — something that you’ll truly enjoy. The Blessed Mother will enjoy it because you are enjoying it and she loves you. You can even put up a few decorations and light candles if the Spirit inspires you to do so. Of course, please do not forget dessert! What would a birthday be without cake or a special birthday treat? 

Above all, rejoice. Commit yourself to a day of joy and keep the momentum going throughout. Invite others to share in your joy, as well, even if they are not familiar with the Blessed Virgin Mary. Your joy will be contagious regardless. It’s your Mother’s birthday, and it’s time to celebrate!

Francisco de Zurbarán, “The Family of the Virgin,” ca. 1650

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Ivan Aivazovsky, “Walking on Water,” ca. 1890

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