The Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos
While all Marian Feasts are awesome, wonderful, and special, the feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos has a special place in my heart. It is my firstborn daughter’s day of birth.
Also called the Assumption of Mary, the feast of Dormition falls on the 15th of August. Icons of this event often show the apostles gathered around Mary, who has fallen asleep in death, while Jesus is looking down from above and holding a baby. This symbolizes that Mary has been born into new life in Heaven.
Having flowers blessed at church is a Byzantine tradition for this feast day. In this article I will cover some flowers when have been specially considered to symbolize Our Lady, as well as some ideas on what to do with the flowers blessed on the feast of Dormition!
Flowers for Mary
This hosta only blooms around mid-August, earning its special name and making it a perfect flower to be blessed on the Dormition!
Fleur de Lis/ Madonna Lily
The Fleur de Lis, which is actually an Iris and not a Lily, is another Marian flower. Apparently, King Clovis I was given this plant at his baptism. One legend says it was the Virgin Mary who gave him these flowers, in celebration of the purification he experienced as a result of his conversion to Christianity.
Columbine / Mary’s Shoes
The Columbine flower is associated with Mary because of another legend. People say that wherever Mary walked on her way to visit her cousin Elizabeth during her pregnancy, the Columbine flower grew.
Lily of the Valley / Mary’s Tears
The Lily of the Valley plant has the appearance of tears when viewed from a distance. This plant has a very strong, sweet fragrance, akin to roses (and is used in some perfumes). The name Mary’s tears comes from more than just the appearance of the plant. There is a rumour that when Mary was crying at the cross where Jesus was crucified, her tears fell to the ground and grew into the Lily of the Valley plant. (Note: make sure you wash your hands before eating after touching this plant).
Lilies in general have been associated with the Annunciation. In icons, the Angel Gabriel may be shown to hand Mary a lily flower.
Mary is called the “Mystical Rose” and the “Rose without Thorns.” The Rosary is also named for the prayers being like giving a garland of roses to Our Lady. It makes a lot of sense to get a bouquet of roses for this special feast of Mary!
What to Do with Your Blessed Flowers
Put Them in your Icon Corner
This is a classic Byzantine option. Hang the flowers to dry, then place them in front of your icons in your icon corner. Need some Icon Corner inspiration? Check out my article on Icon Corners!
There is an endless amount of crafty options for keeping your blessed flowers. You may want to make them into a wreath, or press them and put them in a frame. I like the idea of adding pressed flowers to homemade candles because that satisfies the burn to dispose requirement too. Also, I like the idea of making a rose petal rosary. We’ll probably try this when we have older children. We might make a rosary bracelet a year, or take five years to make a full rosary.
You could also hang the flowers to dry before putting them in a glass jar. This is also clever way to contain them in an icon corner. Although, this is a pretty way to add some beauty to any area of your house!
Add Them to your Garden
If you have a shrine in your backyard, or want to start a Mary Garden, now is the time! Add your blessed flowers to the garden! You could partially bury a vase in the ground, and place your flowers in there. If you can, plant some flowers that will bloom in time for next year’s Dormition feast, so you’ll always have some flowers to have blessed
Whatever You Do
Don’t throw out blessed flowers! Make sure if you are disposing of them, that you either burn or bury them! This goes for any blessed object. Over at ByziMom.com [see Flower Themed Dormition Party Below], she mentions the tradition of saving the dried flowers. These dried flowers are burned during occasions of sorrow or distress.
Further Celebration of the Dormition Feast
I recently came across this article on Throwing a Flower Themed Tea Party to Commemorate the Dormition of the Theotokos. It includes some awesome ideas and recipes. So, if you are looking to spice up your feast day celebration, be sure to check it out!
For Fun: Another Story About the Fleur de Lis
In the 1300s, A monk named Brother Andre took care of the Fleur de Lis flowers grown outside of the church. The flowers had been planted a long time before because people felt that the flowers resembled Mary and was known as a symbol of the Annunciation. This monk had a strong devotion to Mary, but a bad memory, so when he prayed all he said was “Ave Maria” repeatedly. The other monks made fun of him for this. After a life of looking after the Fleur de Lis while praying (remembering to water them better than his remembering words to prayers), the monk died and was buried in the monastery’s cemetery.
The day after he was buried the monks noticed that the Fleur de Lis plant was missing from the church. But, there was no sign that the plant had ever been there at all! The earth was covered in grass rather than looking like someone had dug it up. The monks then found the plant growing on top of the dead brother’s grave.
Have a great Feast of the Dormition Everyone! This week’s article came out early to commemorate the Feast Day, and so that I am free to spend more time with my precious Birthday Girl! Don’t forget to comment and share on social media.