Candlemas is celebrated on the 2nd day of February of each year. The day is celebrated as a day of renewal, hope, and purification. According to an old Jewish custom, a woman who gives birth to a child will be unclean and homebound for a certain number of days after the birth.
The days for this custom differ for the birth of a boy and the birth of a girl. If a boy child is born, the woman is unclean for seven days and then she remains at home for an additional thirty-three days for a total of 40 days. If a girl child is born, the woman is unclean for 14 days and then she remains at home for an additional sixty-six days for a total of 80 days. During these time periods, the woman touches nothing holy.
February 2nd is exactly 40 days after the birth of Jesus Christ and it is on this day that Mother Mary along with Joseph brought forth their newborn son, Jesus, to the Temple. Mother Mary was cleansed on this day. Jesus was presented to the Lord in the Temple on this day. During this time, an elderly holy man named Simeon was staying in Jerusalem. Simeon was told by the Holy Spirit that his death would not come until he saw the Messiah. When Simeon held the baby Jesus, he knew that Jesus had come for the salvation of all. Simeon stated that Jesus was “A light to the revelation of the Gentiles and the glory of thy people of Israel.
The light was the inspiration for the celebration with candles. It was and still remains to this day a Christian celebration of the purification of Mother Mary and the first appearance of Jesus in the Temple. During the early years, people would place their candles outside the church in order to be blessed. They would then carry them in a procession to church in order to imitate the appearance of Jesus in the Temple.
Candles are an important symbol used on Candlemas Day. Also, the snowdrop flower appears in a long ago rhyme which states “The Snowdrop, in purest white array, First rears her head on Candlemas day.”