Festivals and traditions

The Oktav takes place from 16 April until 1 May

This is the country's biggest religious festival

L'Octave se déroule à la cathédrale de LuxembourgFrom 16 April to 1 May 2016, the 'Oktav' will take place in Luxembourg City, the annual pilgrimage in honour of Our Lady of Luxembourg, that is to say Mary the Virgin, Consolatrix of the afflicted, patron saint of the capital of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. Every year, some 60,000 faithful take part in the 'Oktav', the country's biggest religious festival since the 17th century.

The Oktav

The Fortnight of the octave traditionally starts on the third Sunday after Easter and ends on the fifth Sunday after Easter with a solemn closing procession.

The origins of the veneration of the statue of the Holy Virgin date back to 1624, those of the pilgrimage to 1678. The latter was appointed patroness of the city of Luxembourg in 1666 and patron saint of the entire country in 1678, to put a halt to the raging plague epidemics, famines and wars.

Thus, for over 350 years pilgrims from across the country flock to the Cathedral of Our Lady of Luxembourg in Luxembourg City to venerate the Virgin Mary.

For the duration of the 'Oktav', the statue of Our Lady of Luxembourg, richly dressed and adorned for the occasion, is placed in the central cathedral choir on a special votive altar.

The motto of the 2016 edition is 'Mat Dir an eng nei Zäit – Marche avec nous, Marie' (Together with you into a new age – walk with us, Mary).

The highlights are among others the opening Mass on 16 April, the Youth Pilgrimage on 17 April, as well as the People of God Mass on the same day.

The octave ends on 1 May 2016 with the traditional solemn closing procession during which the statue of the Virgin Mary, coated with a special dress for the occasion, is carried through the streets of the capital, accompanied by faithful, but also representatives of the grand ducal family and other public institutions.

Find the detailed programme on the website of the Luxembourg Catholic Church.

Night of the Cathedrals

As every year during the 'Oktav', Notre Dame Cathedral also participates in the Night of the Cathedrals which takes place on 21 May 2016. On this occasion, several 'discovery' visits are organised and concerts are held in the cathedral.

Every year in this context, thirty cathedrals (especially French) open their doors until midnight and offer a rich cultural programme.

The Mäertchen

The 'Oktav' is traditionally accompanied by a market on the Knuedler square (Place Guillaume II), the 'Mäertchen' (literally: small market).

Initially, from its beginnings in 1833, the market's only intention had been to allow pilgrims to drink and eat after church, as well as to acquire some souvenirs and religious items.

Over time many stalls were added and the 'Mäertchen' was somewhat transformed into a popular fair.

The 'Mäertchen' will be open from 17 April to 1 May 2016, every day from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

(article written by the editorial team of the portal luxembourg.lu)

  • Updated 22-04-2016