Assumption Day is also known as the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and is observed every 15 August in Lithuania. Assumption Day celebrates the day when, according to Catholic tradition and doctrine, the Virgin Mary was assumed bodily into Heaven.
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The Assumption of Mary has been a church tradition since at least the 4th Century A.D., but it was not an officially recognised Catholic dogma until the 1950 declaration of Pope Pious XII.
Over three-fourths of Lithuanians consider themselves Roman Catholic, so it’s no surprise that they have made Assumption of Mary a national holiday in their country.
In Lithuania, however, ancient traditions are mixed in with Assumption Day teaching and practices. The day is called “Zoline” by many, a Lithuanian word meaning “Meadow Grass Day”. It became an official holiday only in 2000 but has been celebrated much longer.
Flowers and wheatears are taken to churches on Zoline. It is a harvest tradition that has pagan roots but is now associated with Mary as the first of the Church, other than Jesus himself, to be given a glorified body. Thus, she is like the first of the new harvest in a spiritual comparison according to Roman Catholic teaching.
There is a festival for Zoline in the town of Pivasiunai, which is the biggest such celebration in all Lithuania. It goes on for eight straight days. A painting of Mary with the baby Jesus is at the centre of the celebrations.
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