What is the meaning of Candlemas and what this festival recounts
The word Candlemas, also called the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus Christ, the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or the Feast of the Holy Encounter, is a Christian celebration that honors the presentation of Jesus in the Temple. It is based upon the account of the presentation of Jesus in Luke 2:22–40.
In Greek the Candlemas Day is called “Υπαπαντή” (Hypapante) and comes from the Greek word 'hypantao' which means to welcome someone.
At the temple, Saint Simeon the God-receiver welcomed Jesus Christ with other pious faithfuls and took Him in his arms. Then he was enlightened by the Holy Spirit.
Who is Saint Simeon the Just
According to our Church, Saint Simeon lived in Jerusalem and was a devout Christian. It is even said that he had lived over 200 years because the Holy Spirit had confided to him that he would be alive until he met the Messiah.
One day the Holy Spirit appeared to Simeon the Righteous and advised him to go to the temple. He obeyed. After a while, Joseph appeared with Virgin Mary, holding Jesus Christ and delivering him into the arms of Saint Simeon.
He, holding the Messiah in his hands, praised God, saying: “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”
Then Saint Simeon turned to the couple, who were looking at him with admiration and, addressed to Virgin Mary, said:
"Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."
When we celebrate the Candlemas Day
The event of the Presentation of Jesus Christ in the Temple is described by the Evangelist Luke and states that it happened forty days after the birth of Jesus (Luke 6', 22-39).
According to Evangelist Luke, Christ was the first child of the family and as the law defined for firstborn children, he had to be dedicated to God.
In earlier times, according to the Mosaic law, the firstborn boys of the family symbolized the firstborn, who had been saved in Egypt and thanks to them were dedicated to God.
Today something similar is happening with the forty day blessing (Churching). Forty days after the birth of the infant, the parents go to the Church and "offer" their child, as Virgin Mary offered Jesus Christ to Simeon the Righteous. Through the liturgical act that is followed, the path of baptism and the reception of the child into the Christian life are opened.
When do we celebrate Candlemas
The Feast of the Presentation is celebrated on February 2nd, as it is the fortieth day from December 25th, when Jesus Christ was born.
Our Church honors the Meeting of our Lord in the Temple as an extraordinary feast. Joyful hymns are sung from February 2 to 9, in order to bind the holy event and spread joy and hope throughout the world.