Candlemas Day - A Day to Make and Bless Candles
All about Candlemas
What is Candlemas??
Candlemas Day gets its name from the day when candles were traditionally blessed in churches across Europe. For Western Christians, it occurs 40 days after Christmas, which is the traditional time when a baby would have been presented at the Temple. It commemorates the day when Jesus was presented to God at the temple, and old Simeon saw Jesus for the first time and exclaimed that he was a "light" for all. If you like celebrating ancient holidays, Candlemas has real potential.
Is there anything fun to do to celebrate Candlemas?
In this lens you will find some activities you could do by yourself or with your family. I have included the history of Candlemas and different traditions from around the world further on down the page for those who are interested. The soft light of candles in the dark are a good reminder of how much we need light of all sorts in the world.
(All photos copyright Elyn MacInnis. If you want to use them, please leave a back link.)
What kind of fun can you have on Candlemas Day?
Making Candle Arrangements
Making is so much fun for children and adults too! Making your own candles from wax requires heating wax on the stove, but there are other ways to celebrate. Just setting up your own candles and candle arrangements is enough to feel the spirit of the day. One way you can do it is to use candles from the store and arrange them in a spot on a table or in a corner of the room. Just having them there will give you a different feeling in the evening.
Rolling Beeswax Candles
You can buy sheets of beeswax online in kits, and then simply roll up the candle around a wick, and presto - you have your own home made candle! All ages enjoy this activity, and it is very satisfying. You can get sheets of colored wax, and also plain honey colored beeswax in its natural state which make lovely candles. The smell is dreamy - beeswax has the smell of honey, which is an added delight.
Adding colored wax shapes to candles using modeling wax
If you have sheets of colored wax, you can cut out shapes you like and stick them on candles from the shops, giving them the decoration that pleases you. You could apply crosses of all sorts and shapes, more "flames" made of wax, add Jesus' name, or any other simple words that seem right for the holiday.
Candle activity supplies for Candlemas
This is so simple - if you can roll up a piece of paper, you can roll up beeswax sheets. The camp I attended when I was little had this as one of their craft projects, and I made dozens. They burn quickly, but it is very satisfying.
My mother uses oxygen, so she can't have any flames in her house or there might be an explosion! This is a wonderful way to have a candle if you can't light a flame, for whatever reason.
The history of Candlemas
I have read that the first celebrations of Mary's visit to the temple 40 days after Jesus was born was held on November 21st. This is an interesting argument for Jesus' actual birth happening in October, which is what some scholars believe. But by the year 350 the celebration had moved to February 2, which was 40 days after Christmas, when Jesus' birth was celebrated.
The Pope at that time made a declaration that it should be celebrated with processions and candles to commemorate the wise old Simeon's blessing and proclamation of Jesus as a light for the whole world. Candles were blessed on this day and used in people's homes as a kind of protection for the family. In many countries Catholics will take their candles to the church for a blessing on this day and then bring them home where they will serve as a reminder of God's protection from disasters.
Because Candlemas is associated with fire and flame, in some countries like Armenia, they used to build fires in the church courtyards and dance around the flames, and the daring would jump over them. When the celebration wound down, the people would take home embers to kindle their home fires from the sacred flame.of Candlemas.
In Hungary, the holiday has been called the Blessing of the Candle of the Happy Woman. In Poland, it is called The festival day of the Mother of God
who Saves Us From Thunder.
A Link to Lent
Candlemas is a reminder that Lent is coming. In the 1700's the candles that were blessed on Candlemas we used again on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, and they had a charming custom which is described below, a description of a carnival celebration in Rome in 1787, as told by the author, Goethe:
The darkness has descended into the narrow, high-walled street
before lights are seen moving in the windows and on the stands;
in next to no time the fire has circulated far and wide, and the
whole street is lit up by burning candles.
The balconies are decorated with transparent paper
lanterns, everyone holds his candle, all the windows, all the
stands are illuminated, and it is a pleasure to look into the
interiors of the carriages, which often have small crystal
chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, while in others the ladies
sit with coloured candles in their hands as if inviting one to admire their
Sia ammazzato chi non porta moccolo. 'Death to anyone who is not
carrying a candle.' This is what you say to others, while at the same time
you try to blow out their candles….
It's wonderful how much fun you can have with a candle...
Candlemas and the Weather
Yes- it is the same day as Groundhog's Day!
Groundhogs Day probably came to the US via Britain, where people watched the badger to see its response to the weather at the beginning of February. Watching the weather was an important part of the Candlemas celebrations, and there are a number of simple poems and rhymes about it.
The English have this rhyme:
If Candlemas Day bring snow and rain
Winter is gone and won't come again
If Candlemas Day be clear and bright
Winter will have another flight.
In Scotland they said this rhyme:
If this night's wind blow south
It betokeneth warmth and growth;
If west, much milk and fish in the sea;
If north, much cold and snow there will be;
If east, the trees will bear much fruit;
If north-east, flee it, man, woman and brute.
Have you thought of asking your kids to come up with their own rhyme for Candlemas? It might be fun to make one that fits the weather where you live.