The Feast of Candlemas
The Presentation of the Lord
The Story of Candlemas
Candlemas, also known as the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord Jesus, is a Christian Holy Day commemorating the presentation of Jesus at the Temple. It falls on February 2, which is traditionally the 40th day of the Christmas–Epiphany season. While it is customary for Christians in some countries to remove their Christmas decorations on Twelfth Night (Epiphany Eve), those in other Christian countries historically remove them on Candlemas. On Candlemas, many Christians (especially Anglicans, Methodists, Lutherans, Orthodox and Roman Catholics) also bring their candles to their local church, where they are blessed and then used for the rest of the year.
The Presentation of Jesus at the Temple is an early episode in the life of Jesus that is celebrated by the Church on the holiday of Candlemas. It is described in the Gospel of Luke of the New Testament in the Bible. Within the account, "Luke's narration of the Presentation in the Temple combines the purification rite with the Jewish ceremony of the redemption of the firstborn
In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the presentation of Jesus at the temple is celebrated as one of the twelve Great Feasts, and is sometimes called Hypapante (Ὑπαπαντή, lit., "Meeting" in Greek). In Western Christianity, the traditional name for the day is Candlemas and the Meeting of the Lord. In some liturgical churches, Vespers on the Feast of the Presentation marks the end of the Epiphany season. In the Church of England, the Mother Church of the Anglican Communion, the Presentation of Christ in the Temple is a Principal Feast celebrated either on 2 February or on the Sunday between 28 January and 3 February. In the Catholic Church, the Presentation is the fourth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary.
In the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion and the Lutheran Church, the episode was also reflected in the once-prevalent custom of churching new mothers forty days after the birth of a child.
The traditional Candlemas celebrates three occasions:
The Presentation of the child Jesus,
Jesus' first entry into the temple,
and it celebrates the Virgin Mary’s purification or blessing.
The Thanksgiving of Women after Childbirth or the Churching of Women is the ceremony wherein a blessing is given to mothers after the recovery from childbirth.
According to a New Testament gospel, a Jewish man named Simeon held the baby in his arms and said that he would be a light for the Gentiles
(Luke 2:32). It is for this reason that this event is called Candlemas.
This festivity officially finalizes the end of Christmas for Catholics.
Tradition also says manger scenes should not be put away until Candlemas.
Candlemas occurs at a period between the December solstice and the March equinox, so many people traditionally marked that time of the year as winters halfway point while waiting for the spring.
On Candlemas it is tradition to eat crepes or pancakes & have candles blessed.
***The custom of Churching of Women was retained in the Church until the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s. The official title of the Rite was Benedictio mulieris post partum (the blessing of a woman after giving birth), and focused on blessing and thanksgiving. The contemporary focus of "thanksgiving of women after childbirth" or the "churching of women" is the desire to give thanks to god for the birth of a healthy child, the well-being of its mother and to even bless the father.
*****During the Second Vatican Council…. Pope John XXIII called on the Council because he felt the Church needed “updating” (in Italian: aggiornamento). In order to connect with 20th century people in an increasingly secularized world, some of the Church's practices needed to be improved, and its teaching needed to be presented in a way that would appear relevant and understandable to them. Purification of the Blessed Mother or the "Churching of Women"… In Christian tradition the churching of women, also known as Thanksgiving for the Birth or adoption of a child, is the ceremony wherein a blessing is given to mothers after recovery from childbirth. The ceremony includes thanksgiving for the woman's survival of childbirth, and is performed even when the child is stillborn, or has died unbaptized.
*today it is not a practice that has Catholic women going to a Mikveh to be cleansed or purified after having a boy baby at 40 days and a girl baby at 80 days like in ancient times. Churching can be found in the pre-Vatican II form, not current.
Churching or Benedictio mulieris post partum (The blessing of women after giving birth), is an old Catholic tradition to bless a mother after childbirth.
Churching is a prayer of thanksgiving for the gift of a new life, a celebration of femininity, and a blessing for mother and child.
The tradition of Churching emerged in the early centuries of the Church. Pope Gregory the Great mentions it already in the 6th century. It was meant for the mother to return to church after a time of rest and recovery, for about 4 to 6 weeks, which matches the 40 days of the Levitical law for purification.
For centuries, newborns were baptized within hours or days of their births, which meant their mothers could generally not attend the baptism. Churching was an occasion of thanksgiving for the lives of the mother and the child in a time when maternal and infantile mortality were high.
The time of lying-in before churching was a time of rest for the new mother, since the first few weeks after delivery are critical to the health of the mother for a complete recovery. A network and support system of midwives, neighbors, and family members helped the young mother with the care of her household.
Churching then marked the return of the mother to her social life. She resumed her duties to their full extent. The celebration was often followed by a meal (in French, the word for churching, “relevailles,” is also the word for the feast that follows).
So what does Churching consist of exactly?
The mother would kneel in the church, holding a lit candle, and wait for the priest. He would then come to her, sprinkle her with holy water, and recite the 23rd Psalm. Then the priest would have her stand back up, and she would hold on to his white stole as he leads her towards the altar where she receives the formal blessing.
It was customary to then celebrate Mass, said for the benefit of the young mother and her family, even if the Rituale Romanum doesn’t mention it.
The Book of Blessings published in 1984 contains a now seldom used “Blessing of a Woman after Childbirth” and a blessing for parents during the baptism of their child. It is now rare that the mother be absent from her child’s baptism, reducing the need for the practice of a separate special blessing.
The proposed blessing in the 1984 book of blessing is also just a simple blessing; there is no ritual associated with it.
The mother will meet the priest at the church at an appointed time, she will kneel in the Narthex, holding a lighted candle. The priest, wearing a white stole, will bless her with holy water, and say:
V. Our help is in the Name of the Lord.
R. Who made Heaven and Earth.
ANT. She shall receive.
Psalm 23: 1 is read
Glory be to the Father. (prayer)
ANT. She shall receive a blessing from the Lord, and mercy from God her Savior: for this is the generation of them that seek the Lord.
The priest places the end of his stole in the woman's hand and leads her into the church while saying:
Enter into the temple of God, adore the Son of the blessed Virgin Mary, who gave you fruitfullness of offspring.
Outside the sanctuary, the mother kneels before the Altar and prays, thanking God for her child.
Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. (Now the Our Father is said silently)
V. And lead us not into temptation.
R. But deliver us from evil.
V. Save your handmaid, Lord.
R. Who hopes in Thee, my God.
V. Send her help, Lord, from the sanctuary.
R. And defend her out of Sion.
V. Let not the enemy prevail against her.
R. Nor the son of iniquity approach to hurt her.
V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come to Thee.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.
V. Let us pray.
Almighty, everlasting God, through the delivery of the blessed Virgin Mary, Thou hast turned into joy the pains of the faithful in childbirth; look mercifully upon this Thy handmaid, coming in gladness to Thy temple to offer up her thanks: and grant that after this life, by the merits and intercession of the same blessed Mary, she may merit to arrive, together with her offspring, at the joys of everlasting happiness. Through Christ our Lord.
The priest sprinkles the mother with holy water in the shape of a Cross.
The peace and blessing of God almighty, the Father + and the Son and the Holy Spirit, descend upon you and remain forever.
Introductory note to the celebration
Today, together with Simeon and Anna, we contemplate the Divine child, the Word made flesh, who is brought to the Temple: the Temple of our heart. This singular day in this particular year, finds us still more faithful, with a life completely given to God (VC, 2) responding with a total and exclusive dedication (VC, 17). Let there be today the fiat of our task of obedience to the Gospel, to the voice of the Church, to our rule of life.
With joy let us reconfirm our purpose of sober and austere living in order to defeat the anxiety of possessing through the grace of giving and use the goods of the world for the cause of the Gospel and human promotion. Preserving with love both chastity of body and purity of mind; living our lives with an undivided heart for the Glory of God and the salvation of mankind. Mary, the Virgin Mother, the Most Sacred Temple, accompanies us on this path. Above all, she helps us in the time of trial; she who was pierced by the sword of the Spirit and preserved in her heart that which she had contemplated.
"By your disposition, one love joined the Son and the Mother, one pain welded them one will drove them:
to give pleasure to you, the unique and supreme good " (Preface to the Mass of The Virgin Mary in the Presentation of Our Lord).
In fact, "The contemplative life begins here, to reach its fulfilment in the heavenly home; because the fire of love that here begins to burn, when it sees Him whom it loves, will burn more strongly with love for him. Therefore the contemplative life will not be taken away because, having less light from this present world, it will reach perfection" (Gregory the Great: Hom. in Ez II 2,9 in CCL 142,231).
"For this reason let us stir up the fervor of our souls, oh brothers, strengthen the faith in that in which we have believed and enkindle in ourselves a yearning towards the celestial realities. This love flames as though we were already on the pathway. No adversity will take us away from the joy of the intimate celebration, because if one wishes to arrive at the coveted goal there will be no impediment on the journey that will be enough to change your desire... Thus the spirit yearns, in fullness of desire, towards the celestial homeland" (Gregory the Great: Hom in Ev. 14,6 in PL 76, 1130C).
February 2 is the culminating moment of our Jubilee celebration. Each consecrated person has prepared him or herself through meditation on the gift of the vocation to a total consecration to Christ, in an experience of sincere repentance for failings and of a renewed love for living a true rapport with God and neighbor. Now in the Eucharistic Celebration - with Christ, in Christ and through Christ - and guided by the Spirit, we want to offer to the Father our lives which have been renewed through faith, hope and charity.It is suggested that in every location - whether at the diocesan or the national level - the Eucharistic Celebration be presided over by the Pastors and participated in amply, not only by other consecrated persons, but also by the people of God.
The Presentation of Our Lord is the feast of Christ "light of the people" and of the encounter ("Ypapanti") of the Messiah with his people in the Temple at Jerusalem. The gesture of obedience to the law and offering, performed by Mary and Joseph who bring the child Jesus to offer him in the Temple, inspires the presence at this celebration of many consecrated men and women. These represent those who have chosen the way of the evangelical counsels in the rich variety of charisms that beautifies the Church with the gifts of the Spirit and prepares it to develop the universal mission of the Gospel. Moreover these consecrated persons have come to renew the pledge to their consecration and mission.
The celebration will develop in three moments:
The Liturgy of the Light will begin with the lighting and blessing of candles and continue on with the procession.
The Liturgy of the Word will culminate in the homily, the prayer of thanksgiving for the gift of the consecrated life and the pledge of fidelity in following Christ and in the apostolic mission.
The Eucharistic liturgy will seal this encounter with Christ and this offering, with him, of the consecrated life until He is "the light to illumine the people".
Explaining in more detail:
Other traditions celebrated on this day around the world:
February 2nd is also Groundhog Day!
A holiday originating in the United States.
According to folklore, if it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day, then the spring season will arrive early, some time before the vernal equinox; if it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its den, and winter weather will persist for six more weeks.
The largest Groundhog Day celebration is held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, with Punxsutawney Phil.
Imbolc is also celebrated on February 2 --
This major Sabbat is associated with the
Goddess Brigid (later re-iterated as Saint Brigid).
Imbolc means 'in the belly'--
as in the year is now quickening in the Goddess's belly. She's pregnant with the new year, buds are beginning to come up, and there are signs of oncoming spring.
The days are growing longer as the young
God grows stronger, and there is hope for spring.
Imbolc is also called Candlemas, and it is a festival of light. Candles feature strongly in the celebrations of this Sabbat
Groundhog Day is also related to Imbolc
(in other countries it is sometimes a different animal), which is about being patient for spring to come.
It's unlucky to be impatient, which is why winter will last longer if it is sunny and the animal sees its shadow.
On Candlemas Christian priests bless the candles whose light symbolized
the light of Christ and therefore warded off evil. Candles are then used as torches
and taken back home in order to protect the hearth & home.
Candlemas Day became associated with purity and the Virgin.
Pancakes' round shape is indeed reminiscent of the sun, and therefore of
the return of the daylight after the long winter months, the vital light allowing
for the first sowing of the year.
"four pillars of the Christian faith—
eggs: for the creation
flour: as the mainstay of the human diet, the staff of life
salt: for wholesomeness
milk: for purity
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups blueberries
2 tablespoons water
½ cup of sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 425F
Mix all ingredients in a blender: eggs, milk, flour, sugar, salt, lemon zest, and vanilla paste to the blender.
Heat pan in the oven until hot.
Place butter in the pan and melt, try not to brown the butter.
Pour batter into the hot pan, and place in oven.
Cook for 15-20 minutes until it is golden brown and puffed up.
Remove from oven and top with blueberry sauce and powdered sugar.
To make the sauce, mix all sauce ingredients in a sauce pot and cook on the stove. Cook & stir until the sugar is melted.
Saint Brigid's conversion from paganism, from
the “Triple Goddess” with her fires, inspiration, and forge to...
Saint Brigid's belief in Christianity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
The perfect recipe for your Candlemas would be Brigid's Trinity Bread!
Serve this tasty bread with warm butter for dipping.
Brigid's Trinity Bread!
1 ½ cup – warm milk
1 tbsp. – active dry yeast
1 ¼ cup – granulated sugar
4 eggs – room temperature
1 stick – unsalted butter (melted and cooled)
½ tsp. – salt
1 tsp. – vanilla extract
6 cups – all-purpose flour
2 cups – yellow raisins
1 egg and 1 tbsp. milk for egg glaze
Place 2 cups of raisins into a bowl. Pour boiling water until the water covers the raisins.
Let it soak for 15 minutes. Then drain the water and rinse the raisins. Set aside until ready for use.
Heat milk in a small saucepan to just barely warm over a stove top burner on high temp
(for about a minute). Transfer the milk into a small glass bowl.
Add ¼ cup of sugar and stir well until the sugar is dissolved.
Sprinkle yeast over milk, stir it in, and set it aside in a warm place to proof for 15 minutes.
Melt butter in a cup for 30 seconds, and set it aside to cool.
In the electric mixer bowl, beat eggs and 1 cup of sugar on high, for 10 minutes.
Reduce speed to low and mix in the yeast mixture.
Continue mixing on low while adding salt and vanilla extract.
Add melted butter, continue to mix.
Add raisins. Switch to dough hook attachment.
Sift flour and add 1 cup at a time until all 6 cups of flour are incorporated. (It takes about 15 minutes for the dough to form well.)
Transfer the dough onto a working surface (large cutting board) dusted with flour.
Coat the dough with flour. Place it into a large bowl dusted with a little more flour and let it rise in a warm environment for 2 hours.
After the dough has tripled in size, transfer it from the bowl back to your floured working surface (cutting board) and roll it into a thick log. Split the log into two equal pieces.
Take one half of the dough and roll into a log again. Split it into four equal pieces.
Roll each of the four smaller pieces into thin, long logs (about 1.5 foot long and 1 inch thick).
Pinch the ends of all four thin logs together.
Braid them into a nice and even braid.
Pinch the opposite end of the braided loaf together, then place on a greased pan. Make the egg glaze and rub it over the top of the loaf. Repeat the same steps with the other half of the dough. Let the braided loaves rise in a warm place for another 45 minutes to an hour. It will expand nicely and close the gaps.
Heat the oven to 350 F. Bake each loaf separately for 25 minutes. (The loaf and the pan are too large to fit both into one oven. If you have double ovens, as I do, bake them one in each oven, at the same time.) Remove from the oven and let them cool for 15 minutes before removing from pan. I like to line the pans with parchment paper for baking; it's easier to remove the bread from the paper than the pans. After they're finished baking, the egg glaze runs down the loaf and gets stuck to the pan pretty firmly. Parchment paper goes a long way to alleviate that headache.
Lastly, it's now time to enjoy the delicious bread with a little butter spread and some tea or a cup of coffee!
Songs of Worship:
This Little Light of Mine! I'm Going To Let it Shine!
The blessing of candles which are carried in a procession honoring Christ,
'the light to enlighten the Gentiles' (Luke 2: 32)
Book of the Day!