Candlemas

elizarraxi is licensed under CC BY 2.0

February 2, Christians celebrate the presentation, the first entry into the temple of Jesus, and the Virgin Mary’s purification.

February 2 is a special day for many Christians. It’s the day of Candlemas, an annual Christian holiday.

According to Christian belief and tradition, Candlemas celebrates three occasions: the Presentation of the Child Jesus, Jesus’s first entry into the temple and the Virgin Mary’s purification. The last one is mainly celebrated in Catholic churches.

Traditionally candles are blessed on Candlemas. Candle-lit procession usually precedes the mass. In some European countries, such as France, Candlemas is celebrated with a crepes meal, for which each family member cooks a crepe while holding a coin in hand.

Many Orthodox Christians usually celebrate Candlemas by lighting up beeswax candles in their local church – known as “tsasouna” – and asking these candles to be blessed.  Some people even leave Christmas decorations on display up until Candlemas.

Depending on the church in question, Candlemas is known as Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin and the Meeting of the Lord. February 2 is also Groundhog Day in Northern America. In the U.K., the badger comes out to test the weather on February 2.

Religious research shows that Christians began celebrating Candlemas in Jerusalem during the fourth century. Consequently, the lightning of candles first took place in the fifth century.

Resources

Follow the Conversation on Twitter