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Candlemas Day - A Day to Make and Bless Candles

Updated on December 20, 2013
Elyn MacInnis profile image

Elyn spent the last 30 years in China, coming home in the summer to cook American food and have fun doing craft projects with her family.

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

Beeswax Candle Rolling Kit with Decorating Ideas, in Bright Colors
Beeswax Candle Rolling Kit with Decorating Ideas, in Bright Colors

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.

Creative Co-op 12 Battery Operated LED Tealight Candles Flameless Heatless Faux Wedding Holiday Christmas Thanksgiving Party Light
Creative Co-op 12 Battery Operated LED Tealight Candles Flameless Heatless Faux Wedding Holiday Christmas Thanksgiving Party Light

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.


Candlemas Celebrations

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.

What would you like to do to celebrate Candlemas?

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    • Alana-r profile image

      Alana-r 5 years ago

      Never knew about this, thanks so much for sharing, lovely lens!

    • OrganicMom247 profile image

      OrganicMom247 5 years ago

      I just learned about this Holiday now. Thanks for the new information.

    • JenwithMisty profile image

      Jen withFlash 5 years ago

      Never knew about this day until I read this lens!

    • profile image

      Ladyeaglefeather 6 years ago

      I love candles I marked it on my calender for next year. Thank-you.

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 6 years ago

      I would celebrate it according to the tradition ... love lighting the candles and saying a prayer.

    • julescorriere profile image

      Jules Corriere 6 years ago from Jonesborough TN

      I really enjoyed getting to understand Candlemas. Superb Job. Blessed.

    • julescorriere profile image

      Jules Corriere 6 years ago from Jonesborough TN

      I really enjoyed getting to understand Candlemas. Superb Job. Blessed.

    • Elyn MacInnis profile image

      Elyn MacInnis 6 years ago from Shanghai, China

      @kerri5: Ha! What a good idea! What kind do you want to make?

    • profile image

      kerri5 6 years ago

      Interesting! Shall we make candles together sometime?