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What Is Candlemas Day?

What Is Candlemas Day?

Candlemas, also spelled Candlemass, is also known by a variety of other names including the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus Christ, the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or the Feast of the Holy Encounter. I know, that is really overkill on the naming there. It is considered to be one of the oldest feasts of the Christian church and has been celebrated since the 4th Century in the Holy Land.

What is the History of Candlemas Day?

The story of Candlemas Day starts like this; Mary underwent a religious purification 40 days after the birth of her son Jesus (the postpartum period) which is commemorated during Candlemas.

Ritual purification dates back to a Jewish custom when women were regarded as unclean after giving birth. Women were prohibited from participating in temple worship for 40 days for boys and 60 days for girls. Women were brought to the Temple or Synagogue to be purified at the conclusion of this period. Following the ceremony, women were permitted to participate in religious services again.

On this day, the infant Jesus was formally presented to God in the Jerusalem Temple. According to Luke’s Gospel, Simeon and Anna welcomed Jesus and Simeon described the infant Jesus as The Light of the World while holding him.

This date, the second of February marks the conclusion of the Christmas–Epiphany period in Christianity. It has been customary for this date to be one of the two occasions on which you can take down all the Christmas Decorations. The other is on Epiphany Eve aka the Twelfth Night after Christmas.

The holiday is known as Candlemas because it was on this day that the church blessed all of its candles for the upcoming year.

Candlemas also spelled Candlemass is also known by a variety of other names including the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus Christ, the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or the Feast of the Holy Encounter.

How Do We Celebrate Candlemas?

In this day and age there are a variety of ways to celebrate Candlemas Day. It is common for many people to put lit candles in their house windows on Candlemas night. However, as we look around the world, we find that there are many country specific traditions that are observed on Candlemas Day. Some of there are as follows:

In France and Belgium it is also considered the day of crêpes. This tradition relates back to around 490 when pancakes would be distributed to pilgrims arriving in Rome. In Belgium specifically, it is the custom to eat the pancakes with all the candles in the house lit. It is also believed that the omen of a clear sky on Candlemas foretells a beneficial year.

In Germany Candlemas was once an important date in the course of the year called Lostag. It marked the beginning of the beginning of the farmer’s year and was also associated with the end of the servant’s year on which the servants would be paid the balance of any monies owed to them and often gifted a pair of shoes in order for them to complete further work or find a new job.

In Luxembourg the current tradition of Liichtmëssdag is derived from ancient torchlight procession. It is a holiday centred around singing and children. The children would go from house to house singing specific songs often for the reward of sweets or loose change.

In Puerto Rico Candlemas marks the end of Christmas and the festivities include a procession where the statue of Nuestra Señora de Candelaria (Our Lady of the Light) is paraded through the streets upon the shoulders until it arrives at the church where the Candlemas is performed. It is also common for people to burn their dried Christmas trees on this date.

In Mexico, the traditions of Candlemas are closely linked to those of the Epiphany. Whoever finds the charm in the Kings Cake made on Epiphany as a result becomes the person who is responsible for the dressing and adoration of the Christ Child as well as the preparation of the subsequent family feast of tamales. This meal is also thought to harken back to Mexico’s pre-Christian past with offerings of maize. The whole family is invited to this meal and memories of these events are often passed down from generation to generation.

Is Candlemas Pagan?  

The origins of Candlemas, like various other Christian holidays, has elements of paganism. It was the celebration of the light in pre-Christian days which was significant for indicating the beginning of the end of Winter. It falls halfway between the winter solstice (shortest day) and the spring equinox and, as such, this ancient event commemorated the middle of winter.

It was customary for some people to burn candles on the gloomy winter nights to frighten away evil spirits. It was also common for people to think that Candlemas foretold the remainder of the winter’s weather.

If Candlemas Day be fair and bright

Winter will have another fight.

If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain,

Winter won’t come again.

Traditional Candlemas Poem

Different superstitions accompany this event for some people. For instance, on Candlemas, if a candle drops on one side while being brought into church, this signifies a family member’s passing during the year. Further superstitions include the bringing snowdrops into the house on Candlemas Day represents a separation or death.

How Can I Celebrate Candlemas?

A great starting place would be that if you haven’t taken down your Christmas decorations by Twelfth Night (January 5), you should wait until Candlemas Day to do so. Furthermore, if you have candles that you would like to be blessed, you can take them to your local church if they are holding a Candlemas ceremony or simply ask the priest to perform this rite for you. Then you can bring them home and light one in the front window of your house. If you like the superstitious aspects of this day then you can also keep an eye on the weather to see if it indicates a prosperous year ahead. 

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Jessie LV

Jessie LV is a professional writer in a wide array of genres including content writing, professional writing and creative writing. She foundered Donc Voilà Quoi while living in Tours, France in 2015 when she fell in love with the phrase. When she isn't writing you'll find her out and about in nature, watching whodunit's or cooking up a storm. For writing inquiries please email on

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