Candlemas…doesn’t the name itself even sound beautiful? It conjures up the cozy feelings of Christmas with the bright warmth of dozens of candles.
Candlemas, celebrated on February 2nd, originated in the fifth century and represents the light of God’s glory, which manifested itself in Jesus Christ. When Jesus is first brought to the temple – or presented – as a baby (Luke 2:21-38), Simon holds him in his arms and calls him “a light of revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of Your people of Israel.” (Luke 2:32). The “light” he calls Jesus is what we celebrate with candlelight – celebrating our Light of the World. In the beautiful portrayal of this moment above, you can even see the face of Christ shining with the beauty of light! PS – if you know the name or artist of this painting, please tell me. I can’t find the source, though it seems to be the main image when you Google Presentation of the Lord!
Candlemas is celebrated 40 days after the birth of Christ on Christmas Day. This is in keeping with the Mosaic Law, which stated that a woman needed to purify themselves for 40 days after giving birth. After giving birth, Mary would have taken 40 days to purify herself and then brought Jesus to the temple and made an offering…and it was then that Simon recognized the importance of this beautiful baby. (Side story – interesting to me how this specific Mosaic Law is pretty similar to today’s “recommendations” from OBGYNs. After giving birth, they recommend laying low for six weeks, which is 42 days. Some things never change.)
There are many ways to celebrate Candlemas with your family and parish! (we’ll be doing all these…check back soon to see how they turn out. Figured I’d post this blog a bit early to make sure you had enough time to get ready for this celebration this weekend)
- make easy rolled beeswax candles for your children to bring to mass on February 2nd
- have a candle blessing at mass, with blessed candles for each parishioner to take home
- make candle shaped pancakes for dinner, and tell the story of Candlemas over the meal (your family will love having “breakfast for dinner”) as you dine by candlelight
- let your kids paint/draw on a blank paper; use this to wrap around a TP roll to make your own “candle”