Updated: Feb 17
Tonight is the Eve of Candlemas!
Candlemas is one of the oldest feast days from the ancient Christian church, dating all the way back to the fourth century! It falls exactly forty days after Christmas and wraps up the full celebration of Jesus’ birth. On this special day, we celebrate the Holy Family’s (Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus) arrival at the temple in Jerusalem. The firstborn had to be consecrated to the Lord and that had to be done at the temple in Jerusalem. Joseph, as the father, was required to give an offering to God in thanks for the birth of his first child. His offering was the offering of the poor which, was a pair of young pigeons. While at the temple, Joseph and Mary were unexpectedly confronted by Simeon the Prophet. Simeon took the infant Jesus into his arms, lifted him up to God, and uttered the most beautiful prophecy:
“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.” Luke 2:29-32
After Simeon departed, an elderly prophetess named Anna came up to Jesus and she also prophesied. Through these prophecies, we experience another epiphany where Jesus is revealed as the Messiah.
Because Jesus was revealed as the light of the world, candles play a huge role in the celebration of Candlemas. Candlemas is a holiday of purification, with the candles representing the purifying nature of light. All of the candles that were used in the house were brought to the local church and blessed on this day.
In France the traditional food to eat is crepes. It is said that crêpes, with their golden color and circular form, recall the shape of the sun, evoking the return of spring after a harsh and cold winter. While making the crepes, it is traditional to hold a coin in your writing hand and a crêpe pan in the other. You flip the crêpe into the air and if you manage to catch the crêpe in the pan, your family will be prosperous for the rest of the year. In Mexico, following the church service is a large family feast. Whoever found the bean in their Rosca de Reyes on Epiphany was also in charge of making all of the tamales on Candlemas.
In Great Britain, Candlemas Day was the day when people predicted the weather. Farmers believed that the remainder of winter would be the opposite of whatever the weather was like on Candlemas Day.
An old English song goes:
If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Come winter, have another flight;
If Candlemas bring clouds and rain,
Go winter, and come not again.
This practice led to the folklore behind "Groundhog's Day", which falls on Candlemas Day.
Ways to Celebrate
Read Luke 2:22-40 with your family.
Put all of your candles on the dining room table and have a feast.
Make anything with. a "sunny" color like crepes, pancakes, or tamales. Here's my quick and delicious recipe for pancakes.