Today is a big feast-day. In some countries it is even a public holiday.
Catholics call it the Feast of the Assumption. According to their Catechism, Mary, "having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory."
Eastern Christians use another name. According to a good Greek Orthodox website, "The Feast of the Dormition of Our Most Holy Lady, the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary is celebrated on August 15 each year. The Feast commemorates the repose (dormition and in the Greek kimisis) or "falling-asleep" of the Mother of Jesus Christ, our Lord. The Feast also commemorates the translation or assumption into heaven of the body of the Theotokos."
The Jerusalem Patriarchate is Old Calendar, as are the Orthodox monastic communities in the Holy Land. So they celebrate Dormition on August 28.
This post shows how I saw it celebrated in 2007 and 2006 in the Dormition Abbey on Mount Zion, in Jerusalem. I did not take pictures during the liturgy in the sanctuary. But when we went down to the crypt to continue the prayer, it was dark enough that I could discreetly shoot a few photos.
The Benedictine monks and priests and the people gathered around Mary.
German and Latin were the main languages.
Here above, a monk offers greens for a special blessing as part of the liturgy.
"The Assumption is important to many Catholics as the Virgin Mary's heavenly birthday (the day that Mary was received into Heaven). Her acceptance into the glory of Heaven is seen by them as the symbol of the promise made by Jesus to all enduring Christians that they too will be received into paradise."
So it was appropriate for a "birthday" to continue the celebration with a reception in the courtyard.
As the monk said, his cowl is not just for prayer but also a good shield from the intense noonday sun.
Bon fete to Christians who mark this day!