- February 2nd - celebrates the Presentation of Jesus in the
Temple and the Purification of the Virgin Mary. As with many
festivals in the liturgical calendar, this one has its origins
in ancient Rome.
In Roman times, this date was dedicated in honor of Februa -
the mother of Mars. Candles were carried through the streets
and women observed purification rites. Even today, in many
countries, women who had borne children the year before
participate in candlelit processions - an activity the Church
gladly welcomes as it symbolizes the purification of the
In ancient Celtic cultures, the period between February 1st
and 2nd is called Imbolc - the first day of spring, midway
through the dark half of the year. It was a time when the
stirring of new life manifested itself in the first flow of
milk in the udders of pregnant ewes - a sure sign that the
lambing season was about to begin. The Church tried to replace
Imbolc which was dedicated to the Goddess of Youth and
Fertility - Bride. Thus, in the 5th century, February 1st
became St. Brighid's Day and February 2nd became Candlemas.
There's a popular legend which explains why Candlemas falls
immediately after St. Brighid's Day. Mary was very nervous
about bringing the infant Jesus to the crowded Temple. St.
Brighid promised to help her by distracting the crowds. She
did this by appearing to the multitude wearing a headdress
bearing many lighted candles. In gratitude, Mary decreed that
a feast day honoring St. Brighid should take place the day
origin of the term Candlemas in all probability is from the
custom of bringing candles to church to be blessed by the
priest on February 2nd. They are then take home where they
serve as talismans and protections from all sorts of
disasters. This custom is the origin for the name Candle-mass.
Ireland, Candlemas lapsed during the time of the Penal Laws
but was revived afterwards. People donated candles to their
local church or took their own to be blessed. These would then
be used on special occasions such as station Masses or when
the holy sacraments were administered to the sick.
forecasts were often made on this date. It was once believed
that if the day was sunny and fair, more winter weather was to
come, but if a lark was heard singing, that was a sign of an