8 is a national public holiday in Spain which marks
the Catholic doctrine of the conception of the Blessed
Virgin Mary in the womb of her mother Saint Anne. The
church teaches that Mary was conceived by normal means
but that God acted upon her soul at the time of conception
to keep her 'immaculate' and free from original sin.
It is one of the most important Marian feasts in the
Catholic Church calendar and is considered the official
start of the Christmas season in Spain.
feast of the Immaculate Conception is celebrated nine
months before the feast of the Nativity of Mary which
falls on September 8th and is celebrated in Xàbia
as the feast day of 'Mare de Déu de Loreto',
the final day of the port fiesta. It's often confused
with the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ.
vary across regions in Spain. In Valencia, it is marked
by a celebration of the 'Cofradías
de las Hijas de María' ('Sisterhoods of the Daughters
of Mary') when each year up to a dozen single young
women around 18 years old will sign up to become members
of a 'cofradía' devoted to the adoration of the
Virgin Mary in a local parish. They will wear a very
important outfit of a black gown with a 'teja y mantilla'
on her head, a comb holding up a piece of black lace.
For the next year, the young women will participate
in parish activities and raise money to pay for the
celebrations of December 8th. Down in Sevilla, there
is a special service in the city cathedral with children
performing centuries old traditional dances known
as 'Seises' whilst the night before the streets of the
city are filled with singing minstels known as 'los
in general there are no major processions or parades,
it's a quiet day off with devotees attending a
special mass at their local church and enjoying
a family meal together.