Dormition of Panaghia

The 15th of August is celebrated in commemoration of the Virgin Mary, or Panaghia.  It is one of the most important dates in the Greek Orthodox Christian calendar, known as the 'Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos'.  It is a national and religious holiday that marks the 'falling asleep' repose or kimisis of Panaghia, Mother of Jesus Christ.  The Virgin Mary is referred to in Greece as the Panaghia 'All Holy, Full of Grace' and is considered to be the mother to all people and a symbol of protection and comfort.  Catholic Christians celebrate the 'Assumption' of the Virgin Mary into heaven on this day, while Orthodox Christians celebrate what is called Her 'Dormition', as the Orthodox Church does not teach that Her body ascended into the heavens.  In both cases, the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ, is the figure that is at the centre of these festive celebrations right across the Christian world.

The day is a public holiday throughout Greece and people attend religious services and throw parties for their families and friends.  

The name Mary itself is not the original name by which the Mother of Jesus was known, actually this is a later Latinizes version of the much older name Maria.  Since Greek was the original language in which the New Testament was written, Maria or Mariam were the forms in which the name was originally spread across the Christian world, in the first few centuries after Christ, before its Latin variation became known.  According to experts, its origins are believed to come from the Syro-Aramaic name Maryam, which was also a derivation of the Hebrew name Miriam.  The name Maria began growing in popularity in the Greek world very quickly after the first Greeks embraced Christianity almost 2,000 years ago.  After centuries of uninterrupted presence in Greek society, the name Maria is not only popular in Greece today, but it is actually still, by far, the most popular female name in the country.  Approximately one in twelve Greek women are called Maria, and they will all celebrate their 'name day' today, the 15th of August.