Candlemas


Candlemas
(2 February)
   This is the English name for a religious festival, the last of the Christmas cycle, which celebrates the Purification (i.e. the *churching) of the Virgin Mary 40 days after the birth of Jesus, in accordance with Jewish custom. It necessarily falls on 2 February, the fortieth day after 25 December. It began in Byzantium in the 4th century, and was established in Rome by the 7th century; it has no connection with the Irish feast of Imbolc on 1 February.
   Candlemas was important in the medieval Catholic calendar; each parishioner attended Mass and joined a procession, bringing a *can-dle as an offering to the church. Other candles were blessed and then taken home, to be kept as protection against *thunderstorms, demons, and sickness, and lit by the beds of the dying. Elaborate processions and liturgical dramas were devised, using candles to symbolize Christ, the Light of the World; at Beverley (Yorkshire), a woman 'nobly dressed and adorned as the Queen of Heaven' carried a doll representing the Infant Jesus, while other parishioners represented Joseph, Simeon, Anna, and angels, the latter carrying 24 large candles. These rites were suppressed after the Reformation, but in Dorset and Nottinghamshire there are occasional 19th-century references to people lighting candles in their own homes on this day, or exchanging them as gifts.
   In the 17th century, the Eve of Candlemas marked the end of the Christmas season.
   *Herrick wrote three poems on the topic, noting that sports and dainty foods were at an end, the remains of the *Yule Log quenched and set aside till the next year, and all decorative greenery removed.
   ■ Duffy, 1992: 15-22; Hutton, 1996: 139-43.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

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  • Candlemas — • Also called: Purification of the Blessed Virgin, Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Candlemas     Candlemas      …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Candlemas — [kan′dəlməs] n. [ME candelmasse < OE candelmæsse: see CANDLE & MASS1] a church feast, Feb. 2, commemorating the purification of the Virgin Mary: candles for sacred uses are blessed on this day: also Candlemas Day …   English World dictionary

  • Candlemas — Can dle*mas, n. [AS. candelm[ae]sse, candel candle + m[ae]sse mass.] The second day of February, on which is celebrated the feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary; so called because the candles for the altar or other sacred uses are blessed …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Candlemas — See quarter day. Collins dictionary of law. W. J. Stewart. 2001 …   Law dictionary

  • Candlemas — ► NOUN ▪ a Christian festival held on 2 February to commemorate the purification of the Virgin Mary (after childbirth, according to Jewish law) and the presentation of Christ in the Temple …   English terms dictionary

  • Candlemas — see if Candlemas day be sunny and bright, winter will have another flight; if Candlemas day be cloudy with rain, winter is gone, and won’t come again Candlemas day, put beans in the clay; put candles and candle sticks away …   Proverbs new dictionary

  • Candlemas — /kan dl meuhs, mas /, n. a church festival, February 2, in honor of the presentation of the infant Jesus in the Temple and the purification of the Virgin Mary: candles are blessed on this day. Also called Candlemas Day. [bef. 1050; ME candelmasse …   Universalium

  • Candlemas — noun Etymology: Middle English candelmasse, from Old English candelmæsse, from candel + mæsse mass, feast; from the candles blessed and carried in celebration of the feast Date: before 12th century February 2 observed as a church festival in… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Candlemas — noun /ˈkæn.dəl.məs/ a) The festival in the Christian year that commemorates the purification of the Virgin Mary and the presentation of the infant Jesus in the Temple February 2nd in the western Christian church and February 15th in the …   Wiktionary

  • Candlemas — 2 February. This Church feast celebrates the purification of Mary and also Christ s presentation in the Temple. At the Temple, Simeon, after a revelation, lifted up the child, calling him a light to lighten the gentiles . Candles are blessed… …   Dictionary of Medieval Terms and Phrases