Candlemas is a Christian feast that celebrates the baby Jesus being presented to God in the Temple at Jerusalem. It is also called the ‘Feast of the Presentation’, and is a holy day that commemorates the purification of Mary, 40 days after she gave birth to Jesus.
The festival is called Candlemas, because it is the day that all the Church candles for the year are blessed. On Candlemas night, many people place lighted candles in their windows at home. Some people even light candles to scare away evil spirits on those dark Winter nights!
According to the Gospel of Saint Luke, Jesus was met by Anna and Simeon. Simeon held the baby Jesus, and called him a ‘Light to the World’.
The ritual of purification is an old Jewish tradition, where women were considered unclean after having a baby. They didn’t worship in the Temple for 40 days if they’d had a boy, and 60 days if they’d had a girl. Once the time had elapsed, and they’d had a well-earned rest from giving birth, women went to the Temple for the purification ceremony, and then worshipped in the Temple again.
In pre-Christian times, it was the festival of light. This was an ancient festival that marked the mid-point of Winter in the northern hemisphere, because it was half way between the Winter solstice (shortest day) and the Spring equinox (longest day).
For the Church in Wales, Candlemas will be celebrated on Sunday 3rd February 2019.