Saturday, February 2, 2019

February 2: Candlemas, the Purification, the Presentation, and the End of Christmas

In the Catholic Church, February 2 has traditionally been known as Candlemas, because the priest would bless candles at Mass, for use both at home and in the church.

Historically, this feast was celebrated as the Purification of the Virgin Mary, that is to say the end of the period of ritual impurity that a woman was considered to have after giving birth. In the new calendar, the day is celebrated as the Presentation of the Lord, when Mary and Joseph present the baby Jesus in the Temple, which concludes the ritual purification of the Virgin Mary. The two feasts are really the same, just approaching the same event, described in Luke 2:22-38, from different angles.

The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple is the Fourth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary. At the same time, the same event is also the First Sorrow of Mary, because it is at this time that Mary first learns, through the prophecy of Simeon, of the suffering that her son must later endure. The Seven Sorrows Rosary starts with a reflection on the Presentation.

In an old Catholic tradition, February 2 is also the day when the last of the Christmas decorations are taken down. Specifically, in many areas, including in the Vatican, the Nativity scene is kept out until February 2.

Further reading:

What is Candlemas Day?

The Tradition of Candlemas

Please note: The image above is from the web and is not my own.

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