Most of the content for this post about celebrating Candlemas is drawn from our book, Feast! Real Food, Reflections, and Simple Living for the Christian Year.
Candlemas is coming up this Sunday and I wanted to share some information and resources for celebrating!
About the Feast
Candlemas on February 2nd celebrates the Presentation of Christ: the event described in the Gospel of Luke when the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph present Jesus at the Temple. Faithful Simeon and Anna behold and recognize Jesus as the Messiah, for whom they have been waiting. This feast, which occurs forty days after Christmas (can you believe Christmas was that long ago?), is also in honor of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Celebrate with Candles
It is traditional on this day for the priest to bless candles intended for use in observing the Christian Year. Many parishes have a blessing ceremony for candles during Mass on Candlemas and since this feast falls on a Sunday this year, you can look into bringing your Advent candles and any other religious candles that you intend to use during the Church Year to Mass be blessed by your priest.
Before the use of paraffin, candles were made from beeswax. It has always been the traditional choice for liturgical candles (which are still at least 51% beeswax if they are used in Mass). But beeswax is used for other reasons: it burns pure without leaving a smoky residue, it has a lovely scent, and it’s symbolic. When our daughter Lucy was baptized and received a candle (representing the light of Christ) our priest explained that the bee is a symbol of Christ himself who tirelessly labors for his Church.
“The bee is more honored than other animals, not because it labors, but because it labors for others”
(St. John Chrysostom, 12th Homily)
There are plenty of reasons to avoid the toxic ingredients that many candles contain. Also, stocking up on beeswax candles for liturgical purposes is a great opportunity to seek out beeswax from local apiaries (bee farms) and to support your local bee farmer!
You can also order beeswax online to make your own candles. Each year, we love ordering our Advent candle-making kit from Toadily Handmade Beeswax Candles and the kids really enjoy the process of making them!
(When he finally beholds the Infant Christ, Simeon prays the Nunc Dimittis in Luke 2:29-32):
Lord, you now have set your servant free,
to go in peace as you have promised;
For these eyes of mine have seen the Savior,
Whom you have prepared for all the world to see,
a Light to enlighten the nations, and the glory of your people Israel.
Does your family have special traditions to observe Candlemas? Please share in the comments!
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