Definitions

Candlemas

Candlemas

[kan-dl-muhs, -mas]
Candlemas, Feb. 2, Christian festival commemorating the Purification of the Blessed Virgin and the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. The name Candlemas is derived from the procession of candles, inspired by the words of Simeon "a light to lighten the Gentiles" (Luke 2.32). In the Roman Catholic Church the candles for use in the ensuing year are blessed on this day. An old superstition claims that the weather is foretold by the ground hog (see woodchuck) on Candlemas.

(February 2) In the Christian church, the celebration of the presentation of the infant Jesus and the post-childbirth purification of Mary in the Temple, in accordance with Jewish law. The Greek church calls it Hypapante (“Meeting”) in reference to Jesus' meeting there with Simeon, to whom it had been revealed that he would not die before meeting the Messiah. The festival is first documented in Jerusalem in the late 4th century; the custom of observing it with lighted candles (the source of its name) dates to at least the mid-5th century. The popular nonreligious holiday Groundhog Day developed, in part, from the medieval tradition that certain animals interrupted their hibernation on this day.

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