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The Day of Our Lady of Africa in Spain

Quick Facts

The Day of Our Lady of Africa honors the patron saint of the city of Ceuta. It is a public holiday in this Spanish city on August 5.

Local names

NameLanguage
Día de Nuestra Señora de ÁfricaSpanish
The Day of Our Lady of AfricaEnglish
Nuestra Señora de ÁfricaGerman

The Day of Our Lady of Africa 2014

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Day of Our Lady of Africa 2015

Wednesday, August 5, 2015
List of dates for other years

The Day of Our Lady of Africa (Día de Nuestra Señora de África or Fiestas Patronales) is a time of celebration for Christians in the Spanish city of Ceuta, Spain. It is also a local public holiday in Ceuta on August 5.

Female holding carnation petals, Selective focus on hands.

Flowers are often placed in front of the statue of Our Lady of Africa.

©iStockphoto.com/Angel Herrero de Frutos

What do people do?

The annual fair in Ceuta begins at the end of July and lasts until August 5. Many people visit the fair, especially on August 4 and 5. Many Christians go to the Plaza de África in Ceuta on August 4. They lay flowers in front of the statue of the Our Lady of Africa or outside the church that houses this statue.

On August 5, a group of men known as costaleros carry the statue in a procession through the streets of Ceuta. During the procession, people throw flowers from balconies onto the statue. Fireworks are set off to mark the end of the fair and holiday.

Public life

The Day of Our Lady of Africa is a public holiday in Ceuta on August 5, but not in the rest of Spain. Many businesses and other organizations are closed in Ceuta. Many stores are closed but some bakers and food stores may be open. Public transport services may run to a reduced schedule. Parades and the annual Ceuta fair may cause disruption to traffic, especially in the city center.

Background

The Strait of Gibraltar is the narrow sea passage between Spain and Morocco. It marks the point where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic Ocean. This strait has played an important role in travel networks and the spread of religions for many thousands of years.

Tariq ibn Ziyad conquered the rock of Gibraltar in 711 CE. This marked the start of Moorish rule on the Iberian peninsula. Tariq ibn Ziyad built a mosque on the southernmost point of Gibraltar. Ferdinand IV of Castile captured Gibraltar in 1309 CE. He put a statue of Mary, Mother of Christ, in the mosque and dedicated it to Our Lady of Europe. It is now known as "Our Lady of Europe as Patroness of Gibraltar".

King John I of Portugal and his troops attacked Ceuta on August 14, 1415. He arranged that a Catholic shrine was built in the city. The shrine was dedicated to Our Lady of Africa. The shrines to Our Lady of Europe and Our Lady of Africa flank the eastern entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar. Together, they were important symbols for Christian mariners leaving the sheltered waters of the Mediterranean and entering the rougher seas of the Atlantic Ocean.

Symbols

A statue of Mary and Jesus known as "Our Lady of Africa" plays an important role in the celebrations. The statue was brought to Ceuta from Lisbon, Portugal, by Henry the Navigator of Portugal. He did this shortly after his father, King John I of Portugal, conquered Ceuta in 1415.

The Day of Our Lady of Africa Observances

WeekdayDateYearNameHoliday typeWhere it is observed
SunAug 51990The Day of Our Lady of AfricaLocal holidayCeuta
MonAug 51991The Day of Our Lady of AfricaLocal holidayCeuta
WedAug 51992The Day of Our Lady of AfricaLocal holidayCeuta
ThuAug 51993The Day of Our Lady of AfricaLocal holidayCeuta
FriAug 51994The Day of Our Lady of AfricaLocal holidayCeuta
SatAug 51995The Day of Our Lady of AfricaLocal holidayCeuta
MonAug 51996The Day of Our Lady of AfricaLocal holidayCeuta
TueAug 51997The Day of Our Lady of AfricaLocal holidayCeuta
WedAug 51998The Day of Our Lady of AfricaLocal holidayCeuta
ThuAug 51999The Day of Our Lady of AfricaLocal holidayCeuta
SatAug 52000The Day of Our Lady of AfricaLocal holidayCeuta
SunAug 52001The Day of Our Lady of AfricaLocal holidayCeuta
MonAug 52002The Day of Our Lady of AfricaLocal holidayCeuta
TueAug 52003The Day of Our Lady of AfricaLocal holidayCeuta
ThuAug 52004The Day of Our Lady of AfricaLocal holidayCeuta
FriAug 52005The Day of Our Lady of AfricaLocal holidayCeuta
SatAug 52006The Day of Our Lady of AfricaLocal holidayCeuta
SunAug 52007The Day of Our Lady of AfricaLocal holidayCeuta
TueAug 52008The Day of Our Lady of AfricaLocal holidayCeuta
WedAug 52009The Day of Our Lady of AfricaLocal holidayCeuta
ThuAug 52010The Day of Our Lady of AfricaLocal holidayCeuta
FriAug 52011The Day of Our Lady of AfricaLocal holidayCeuta
SunAug 52012The Day of Our Lady of AfricaLocal holidayCeuta
MonAug 52013The Day of Our Lady of AfricaLocal holidayCeuta
TueAug 52014The Day of Our Lady of AfricaLocal holidayCeuta
WedAug 52015The Day of Our Lady of AfricaLocal holidayCeuta
FriAug 52016The Day of Our Lady of AfricaLocal holidayCeuta
SatAug 52017The Day of Our Lady of AfricaLocal holidayCeuta
SunAug 52018The Day of Our Lady of AfricaLocal holidayCeuta
MonAug 52019The Day of Our Lady of AfricaLocal holidayCeuta
WedAug 52020The Day of Our Lady of AfricaLocal holidayCeuta

Other holidays in August 2014 in Spain

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