Assumption Day is also known as the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and is observed every 15 August in Croatia. 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.
Croatia is a strongly Roman Catholic country and it observes Assumption Day with much enthusiasm. The main celebrations for Assumption Day in Croatia take place in the town of Sinj. The holiday, in the Croatian language, is called “Velika Gospa”. Velike Gospa is also the “Town Day” of Sinj.
Many come as pilgrims to Sinj in coastal Dalmatia for this event. Many walk the whole distance, and some do it barefoot. They then bow down before a painting of Mary, amid lit candles, to pray to her silently. Services start as early as 4am and run for much of the day. Bells ring out in celebration, while parades pass by with people carrying the “Painting of the Miraculous Madonna” as a special privilege. Cannon shots are heard from the old fortress, flower petals are showered from windows, and songs to and about Mary are sung in unison. It is a very solemn and very spectacular event.
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