The Feast of the Dormition of Our Most Holy Lady, the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary is celebrated on August 15 each year. The Virgin Mary holds a principal position in the honour and respect of Orthodox Christians in every corner of Greece. She is a mother and protector, an honoured and divine person. The Feast commemorates the dormition or ‘falling-asleep’ (κοίμησις in Greek) of the Mother of Jesus Christ our Lord and also commemorates the translation or assumption into heaven of the body of the Theotokos.

The Assumption of the Virgin Mary is not an event for mourning because she ascended to live. In towns and villages throughout Greece churches dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary organise traditional festivals that include liturgies, processions and other local customs. Countless churches and monasteries around Greece and the diaspora hold similar celebratory events.

This year, our Primary students attended a divine liturgy at All Saints Church in their separate stages. During their Orthodoxy lessons, our younger grades undertook arts and crafts activities to produce an icon of the Theotokos. They also learned hymns addressed to her. Students of Years 5 and 6 created epitaphs (επιτάφιοι) in the tradition of many Aegean islands (Paros, Patmos, Karpathos), where they decorate and carry an epitaph in honour of the Virgin Mary. Our students also learned about the 14 days fasting that precedes the Feast. This is to honour the Virgin Mary who also fasted before Her Assumption.

At All Saints Grammar, we share a worldview shaped by our rich Hellenic culture and the Orthodox Christian faith. Days like the Dormition of the Theotokos remind us of the importance of celebrating our heritage and preserving our culture. It is an opportunity for all of us to feel spiritually connected through our faith.

The Dormition of the Theotokos or ‘Της Παναγίας’ in plain Greek is one of the most important days of the Greek Orthodox calendar. Such is the love of the faithful towards the Virgin Mary that Greeks have given her more than 500 names or Theotokonymia as they call them.

We look forward to being able to celebrate this Feast again as a community in 2021. God bless.

Theo Panagiotou
Leader of Mission, Faith, Culture & Language