The Presentation of the Lord is celebrated on February 2. It is also known as Candelmas. It was Jewish custom to present infants in the temple in order to dedicate the child to God and to pray over the new mother. When Mary and Joseph dutifully brought Jesus to the temple, they were fulfilling their promises to God and stepping into their roles as the earthly parents of Jesus.
There are many traditions around the world to celebrate this feast day that once marked the end of the Christmas season.
1. Make Beeswax Candles
- Beeswax candle making kit
- Modeling beeswax (optional)
- Hair dryer
- Knife or scissors
With this activity, contemplate the mystery of Christ being fully human and fully divine. Beeswax is extracted by virgin bees (worker bees who do not take part in the reproductive process in the hive) and symbolizes the pure flesh of Jesus born of the virgin Mary. As you make a candle, think about Christ’s purity as he took flesh and became fully human without sin. St. Anselm wrote that the wick of the candle is a symbol of the soul of Christ and that the flame is a symbol of Christ’s divinity. As you light the candles, meditate on his divine nature.
There are some easy kits for rolling or pouring beeswax candles that you can purchase to make your own candles. We added some color to ours by decorating with modeling beeswax, too; one tip is to warm the wax with a hair dryer to make it more malleable.
Take these candles to Mass for a traditional blessing.
2. Enjoy Pancakes
It’s traditional to eat pancakes (or crepes in France) on Candlemas. The golden discs of pancakes are a reminder of the sun, which represents the Son of God, the true Light of the world. An old saying goes that if you ate pancakes on Candlemas, you would be assured a good harvest in the coming year.
Make pancakes for breakfast today to celebrate the Presentation.
3. Eat Tamales
In Mexico, it’s traditional to celebrate with tamales. Have a tamale dinner party today! (Don’t forget: Whoever had the baby Jesus in their slice of rosca de reyes on Epiphany has to host the party today!)
4. Pray Night Prayer
When Mary and Joseph went to present Jesus in the Temple, they encountered the prophet Simeon, who immediately recognized the infant Jesus as the Messiah and spoke words recorded in Luke’s gospel and recited in the Church’s prayer every night.
Praying Simeon’s canticle is a beautiful way to end the day. It can be sung or read easily in just a few minutes before bed. In many communities this is when forgiveness is asked of others and gratitude is given for kindnesses throughout the day. This is a beautiful tradition to incorporate into your spiritual life.
Response: Protect us, Lord, as we stay awake; watch over us as we sleep, that awake, we may keep watch with Christ, and asleep, rest in his peace.