The Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Catholicism is now seamlessly integrated throughout Peruvian culture which has led to much of our national calendar being allocated to special holy days. One such day of celebration and worship, amongst believers, unfolds on December 8th throughout Peru and much of the Catholic world.

For Peruvian inhabitants, December 8th has been ordained a public holiday known as Día de la Purísima Concepción (day of the Immaculate Conception.) This day marks the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, nine months before the feast of the Nativity of Mary, which takes place on September 8th to mark Mary’s birth. The public holiday is said to have been celebrated since as far back as the fifth century in the east but only solemnized as a Holy Day of Obligation on 6th December 1708 by Pope Clement XI.

The celebrations that take place on December 8th are also in commemoration of the day that Mary’s mother Anne became a Saint. Mary’s mother and father, Anne and Joachim, had unfortunately been a childless couple until an angel appeared and told Anne that she would give birth to a child that the world would honour, and upon offering her child to God’s service Anne was bequeathed the title of a Saint.

Since 1953 the Pope, as Bishop of Rome, has visited the Column of the Immaculate Conception in Piazza di Spagna to offer reparatory prayers and commemorate the solemn event. Many consider the feast to be a day to spend with relatives and loved ones, choosing to gather and attend mass, parades and processions as well as celebrating with firework displays, family meals and cultural festivities.

While each region in Peru celebrates in their own special way, during a visit to Inkaterra La Casona in Cusco you can join churchgoers in their local parade, with some members carrying statues of the Virgin Mary – everyone is welcome! In addition to the religious ceremonies in Cusco, revellers merge the festivities with ancient Andean traditions, with local music and dances being performed throughout the city. It is truly a marvel to behold so much respect for the tradition and heritage of Peruvian people.

Festivals and days of celebration take place throughout the year in Peru commemorating several different events. Read about Dia de los Difuntos, which gives friends and family a chance to gather and pay remembrance to loved ones who have passed away, or El Senor de los Milagros, remembering the events that transpired following a life-changing earthquake which took place in Lima and Callao in the 17th century, and also Santa Rosa de Lima, which honours Santa Rosa and her benevolent career throughout Peru. To find out more about festivals in Peru please visit our blog.