Very early on, the Catholic Church chose August 15 (which would be the full moon of August if the new moon fell—as it did when the months were lunar—on the first of the month) to honor the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was proclaimed a holiday throughout the Roman Empire by Emperor Maurice around 600 in the East, and about 50 years later in the West.
This Catholic holiday replaced an earlier celebration that took place in Greece on the full moon of August in honor of Artemis and Hecate, which the Romans gave a fixed place in the solar calendar on August 13. It was known in Rome as Diana’s Feast of Torches. Continue reading