Mary (meaning 'excellence' in Hebrew), mother of Jesus, was born to Joachim and Anne during the period of twelve tribes of Israel. According to some sources she was born in Jerusalem, while some others believe her birthplace to be Nazareth.
Joachim, Mary's father, was a very wealthy man who gave offerings both to the poor and to the temple. One day the High Priest refused to accept his offerings because Joachim's wife, Anne, was barren and the Priest regarded Anne's childlessness as a sign of divine displeasure.
This deeply affected Joachim. He decided to fast for forty days till the Lord answered his prayers and blessed him with a child. While Joachim was fasting in the desert, an angel visited Anne; she was sitting under an aromatic tree, praying to the Lord.
The angel said to her, "Anna, Anna, the Lord has heard your prayer, and you shall conceive, and your seed will be spoken of in all the world". Joachim returned after forty days of fasting and nine months later the couple was blessed with a baby girl.
Mary grew up in the staunch Jewish settlement of Nazareth where the climate was dry and people largely depended on rain for crops to grow. The difficult life of the hillside made its people strong and hard-working. It strengthened their bond as well as their belief in the Other Worldly -- every year they would pray to the Lord for a good rainfall and a rich harvest.
Growing up, Mary spent her days like any young girl of rural Galilee -- cooking dishes of vegetables, eggs, fruits, and sometimes mutton; making flour out of wheat and barley; weaving clothes out of wool; fetching water from the town-well for daily household chores; baking bread; feeding the cattle.
She was a simple girl living in a stone house in the village, whose daily chores largely depended on the season and the time of harvest. From sowing seeds in the fields to collecting crops and picking ripened fruits, all depended on rains and the time of the year.
The town and people of Nazareth taught Mary the lessons of life. She lived their joys and sorrows and grew up into a sensible, compassionate, and hard-working young lady with a strong Jewish faith.
At the age of 15 she was engaged to Joseph, a carpenter in Nazareth. She lived at her parents' house for about a year after the ceremony, and as she was about to begin her new life with her husband, the angel Gabriel visited her to announce that she's to conceive and bear a Son, whom she must name Jesus.
"The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob forever and his reign will have no end."
The angel also told her that "the child will be holy and will be called Son of God." Despite her fear and confusion, Mary's deep faith enabled her to accept God's Will. By the power of the Holy Spirit she conceived the child, and her life was changed forever.
The angel appeared in a dream to Joseph to tell him about God's plan -- it instructed Joseph to take Mary home as his wife and told him of Mary's conception by the Holy Spirit. Being the pious man he was, Joseph brought Mary home, and together they set out to do what God had willed them to do.