Like every year, the Octave Pilgrimage and market will start the 3rd Sunday after Easter and will end the 5th Sunday after Easter in Luxembourg. The Octave feast is a traditional emblematic festivity of the capital since 1666, laden with history and traditions.
A Digital Octave in 2020
This year, the Octave will take place from Saturday, May 2 to Sunday, May 16, 2020. Due to Coronavirus restrictions and the ban on gatherings, it will be possible to follow the Octave celebrations on a livestream that will broadcast the masses from the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Luxembourg.
What is the Octave pilmigrage?
The Octave is one of the most important religious traditions of the country and the Great region. It is celebrated in the form of a great pilgrimage for a period of two weeks in honor of our Lady of Luxembourg, also known as Marie, the Virgin Comforter of the afflicted, Patronness of the capital city and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
For more than 400 years, the tradition consists of pilgrims from across the country flocking to Notre Dame Cathedral to honor the Virgin Mary. On this occasion, the statue in her image is, each year, decorated and dressed then placed at the heart of the Cathedral, on an altar specifically reserved for the occasion. The octave period ends each year with the statue of the Virgin Mary, especially dressed for the occasion, passing through the streets of the capital, brought by the faithful and accompanied by representatives of the grand-ducal family and other public institutions.
Octave Market at the Knuedler and Constitution square
If the feast of the Octave is initially a religious tradition, it also leads totwo weeks of events in the heart of the capital, including the famous “Octave market” (the Octavemärtchen).The biggest part of it will be installed at the Knuedler (on Place Guillaume II), and a second small market will also be present on the Constitution square (see Gelle Fra).
If in its beginnings, the implementation of this market was only justified by the presence and needs of the pilgrims on the premises, the Octave market is today a popular and friendly market with a village festive mood which attracts every year over 90.000 visitors.The stands are composed of culinary traders, but also shops where one can buy souvenirs and gifts.
Note : during the Octave, the Wednesday and Saturday twice-weekly market takes exceptionally place at the Glacis-field.
History of the Oktav
The Octave has its origins in the history of Luxembourg. In 1620, the plague broke out while the country was at war. Misery reigned and the population was struggling to feed itself. Many people died. Religion and prayers gave people hope in these very dark times.
One of the Jesuit fathers built a wooden statue of Mary and the baby Jesus with the boys of the Athenaeum school. It was placed in a chapel built on the Glacis at the entrance to the city, so that all the people could go there to pray to Mary, “Consoler of the afflicted”.
Once a year, the statue was carried through the city to the church near the Athenaeum on the Knuedler, where it remained for a week, which was called the Octave. People came from far and wide to pray to Mary in this church. Offerings were placed on an altar in thanksgiving to Mary and masses were celebrated.
In 1666, while war and illness were still raging, the notables offered Mary the keys to the city. In 1678 Marie was elected patroness of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
Since then, the Octave has continued to attract crowds of pilgrims and the period has been reduced to two weeks. Markets have appeared around the Knuedler church, which in the meantime has become the cathedral of Luxembourg, in order to satisfy the populations who came from far away for this annual pilgrimage.