Candlemas: an important day in the Christian calendar, marking the 40th day since Jesus’ birth when Mary, a new mother, went to the Temple in Jerusalem to complete her ritual purification after childbirth, and to perform the redemption of the firstborn son, in obedience to the Torah. Full details are found in Luke 2: 22-40. It is during this presentation of Jesus that Simeon, a devout and holy man who had been told by the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he had seen the Messiahpronounced, upon seeing Jesus, “LORD, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace; according to Thy word: for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people: to be a light to lighten the gentiles and to be the glory of Thy people Israel”. This passage is known as the Nunc Dimittis. Also in the Temple that day was the prophetess Anna who began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
There are also traditions and superstitions associated with Candlemas. For example, in the United Kingdom, good weather at Candlemas is taken to indicate severe winter weather later: "If Candlemas Day is clear and bright, / winter will have another bite. / If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain, / winter is gone and will not come again. In North America the parallel to Groundhog Day is absolute, right down to the day: February 2. In some parts of Europe, crepes are traditionally eaten on Candlemas, In parts of Latin America the feast is traditionally tamales. Sailors are often reluctant to set sail on Candlemas Day, believing that any voyage begun then will end in disaster—given the frequency of severe storms in February.
So it seems that in various parts of the Christian world, different traditions are followed. At St. Catherine’s we will celebrate the Candlemas Eucharist at 4pm on Sunday February 4, followed by a pot luck supper. Let’s see if any one brings crepes or tamales!