Feb 2 – The Presentation and Candlemas
“Today is a day of purification, renewal, and hope.”
The Presentation of our Lord commemorates when Mary and Joseph brought the infant Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem where he was greeted by Simeon and Anna. By the Law every first born male was to be consecrated to the Lord.” This happened 40 days after his birth at Christmas.
It is a feast day though it does not often fall on a Sunday. Candlemas occurs at a period between the December solstice and the March equinox, so many people traditionally marked that time of the year as winter’s “halfway point” while waiting for the spring.
Candlemas is actually a very old feast, celebrated by both the churches of the East and the West, and in some places it is on this day that the creche is finally removed from the church. The passage from The words in this scripture are often part of Compline
According to some sources, Christians began Candlemas in Jerusalem as early as the fourth century and the lighting of candles began in the fifth century. Other sources say that Candlemas was observed by blessing candles since the 11th century. An early writing dating back to around 380 CE mentioned that a feast of the Presentation occurred in a church in Jerusalem. It was observed on February 14. The feast was observed on February 2 in regions where Christ’s birth was celebrated on December 25. It is also Groundhog Day in the United States and Canada on February 2.
Candles are blessed on this day (hence the name “Candlemas”). It was the day of the year when all the candles, that were used in the church during the coming year, were brought into church and a blessing was said over them – so it was the Festival Day (or ‘mass’) of the Candles. Candles were important in those days not only because there was no electric lights. Some people thought they gave protection against plague and illness and famine. For Christians, they were (and still are) a reminder of something even more important. Before Jesus came to earth, it was as if everyone was ‘in the dark’.
Pieces of these candles are considered of great efficacy in sickness, or otherwise. When a person is dying, a piece is put in his hand lighted, and thus he passes away in the belief that it may light him to Paradise.