Candlemas Celebrates Light

Candlemas is celebrated around the world on February 2.

I learned of Candlemas a few years ago, but didn’t really understand what it represented until I did a little research. It occurs 40 days after Christmas according to Jewish law found in Leviticus. Luke 2:22 tells us that Mary and Joseph brought baby Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem to dedicate him to the Lord and for Mary to be purified. Following the law, Jesus was circumcised when he was eight days old and 33 days later presented to God in the temple. It is also known as the Feast of Presentation or the Purification of the Virgin Mary. People bring candles to church to be blessed by the priests and in some countries the candles are then placed in the windows of people’s homes. Jesus is the light of the world and the light is believed to protect the home.

Two people received God’s blessing the day Jesus was brought to the temple. Simeon was a devout man of God and had had been told he would see the Messiah before he died. When he saw the baby he knew Jesus was the promised Messiah and held him in his arms. He praised God and he also told Mary that a sword would pierce her soul. The prophet Anna lived in the temple and she too realized this was the Messiah. She gave thanks to God and told the people who the child was.

Like most celebrations food is involved. In France crepes are eaten and in Mexico tamales are enjoyed. Christians in Puerto Rico light bonfires at the end of Candlemas Day. I don’t know if it is celebrated anywhere in America, but it was first celebrated in Jerusalem in 4th century AD and has continued since.

Our world needs the light of hope and love. For Christians Jesus is the light and he gives us hope and strength during these difficult times. I like the idea of placing candles in the window on February 2. Mine are electric but I think that will work. The days are beginning to get shorter and in some countries they consider this day to signify the end of winter. Those of us in Ohio know we have weeks to go before we see spring. It doesn’t matter if the groundhog sees his shadow or not on Candlemas Day.

The spring bulbs have pushed through the soil so I know they are eager for the sun’s warmth. I’m going to accept that February 2 is the first step to spring. I wish you a sunny Candlemas Day and perhaps you’ll light a candle remembering the significance of this day.

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