Candlemas, also known as the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Feast of the Presentation of our Lord Jesus, is a Christian holiday commemorating the presentation of Jesus at the Temple. It falls on February 2, which is traditionally the 40th day of the ChristmasEpiphany season. While it is customary for Christians in some countries to remove their Christmas decorations on Twelfth Night (Epiphany Eve), those in other Christian countries historically remove them on Candlemas. On Candlemas, many Christians also bring their candles to their local church, where they are blessed and then used for the rest of the year.
Presentation of Jesus at the Temple
The Feast of the Presentation is one of the oldest feasts of the Christian church, celebrated since the 4th century AD in Jerusalem. There are sermons on the Feast by the Bishops Methodius of Patara (died 312), Cyril of Jerusalem (died 360), Gregory the Theologian (died 389), Amphilochius of Iconium (died 394), Gregory of Nyssa (died 400), and John Chrysostom (died 407). It is also mentioned in the Pilgrimage of Egeria (381 – 384), where she confirmed that the celebrations took place in honor of the presentation of Jesus at the Temple.
In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the presentation of Jesus at the temple is celebrated as is one of the twelve Great Feasts and is sometimes called Hypapante (lit., “Meeting” in Greek). In Western Christianity, the traditional name for the day is Candlemas, which is also known as the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin, and the Meeting of the Lord. In some liturgical churches, Vespers (or Compline) on the Feast of the Presentation marks the end of the Epiphany season. In the Church of England, the Mother Church of the Anglican Communion, the Presentation of Christ in the Temple is a Principal Feast celebrated either on 2 February or on Sunday between 28 January and 3 February. In the Catholic Church, the Presentation is the fourth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary.