The death of the Virgin Mary is commemorated in Orthodox countries with great reverence, solemnity and joy. In Georgian, it is known as Mariamoba.
It has been likened to “a second Pascha” by Orthodox theologians for many reasons. Firstly, it involves the physical death of a great and revered figure in the Church. Secondly, according to Church tradition, her body was borne away from this earth rather than being buried, creating amazement amongst Christ’s disciples mirroring that which they experienced when discovering Christ’s tomb to be empty. Thirdly, on the third day after her death, she appeared to Christ’s disciples and commanded them to rejoice, as she had joined her Son in heaven, as they would also do. So the elements of physical death, disappearance of the physical body, and revelation to the faithful three days after death associated with Pascha are recapitulated.
As with the Lenten period preceding Pascha, the faithful are required to fast prior to the feast, which usually involves abstaining from meat and liquor. The Mariamoba fast lasts for two weeks and starts tomorrow.
As with the feast of Pascha, the Mariamoba overnight vigil is followed by morning celebrations. This often involves the slaughter of a sheep and consumption of a great deal of meat and wine with family. As Georgia is the country allocated to the Virgin Mary by God, Georgians take this celebration very seriously. The traditional Georgian identification of the Virgin Mary with a vineyard, producing a ripe vintage of the Son of God for the salvation of mankind, makes the consumption of wine at the feast a deeply meaningful exercise. While some will feast at home, many will make pilgrimages to hilltop monasteries in the hills and picnic outdoors.
Mariamoba is also the name-day for Georgian women bearing names derived from the name of the Virgin Mary. So your friends named Mariam, Mari, or Mariko will have a double celebration on August 28.