HOUSTON, TEXAS—August 10, 2017
The Marian Days (Vietnamese: Đại Hội Thánh Mẫu, officially các Ngày Thánh Mẫu) is the main festival and pilgrimage for Vietnamese American Roman Catholics. The annual event in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary has taken place the first weekend in August since 1978 on the 28-acre (110,000 m2) campus of the Congregation of the Mother of the Redeemer (CRM) in Carthage, Missouri. Tens of thousands of attendees come from throughout the United States, while non-Vietnamese locals and some visitors from Canada and Vietnam also attend. An estimated 90,000 attended the most recent Marian Days held from August 3-6, 2017.
Each day of Marian Days is highlighted by a large, outdoor Mass on the CRM grounds. The Marian Days offer opportunities for Reconciliation and prayer. Mass is celebrated by many priests and religious.
Pilgrims turn the surrounding area into a large campground, as many nearby residents allow pilgrims to erect tents on their lawns. Although the celebrations are centered on liturgy, they also feature a number of other events. Dioceses with large Vietnamese populations set up large tents to sell traditional Vietnamese food. Proceeds go to the parishes, orphanages, or a diocese in Vietnam such as Phú Cường. Other organizations, such as a local Knights of Columbus chapter also serve food to pilgrims in tents. Each night, performers from Thúy Nga and other groups entertain the large crowds with both folk and popular Vietnamese music.
At the end of the procession in honor of Our Lady of Fatima, two long firecrackers are lit, followed by the release of numerous balloons of all colors tied to two flags, one of blue and white, the Virgin Mary’s colors, and the other of the Vietnamese flag before the country fell to communism. The flags fly off into the distance, symbolically meant to go to Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ.