Christmas is officially over. Monday marks the Christian holiday Candlemas, or Día de La Candelaria, which is celebrated 40 days after Dec. 25. In some U.S. communities, Candlemas is reserved as a time for family and religion, but in other places, like Mexico and France, it's cause for a bull running and crepes.
Below are five facts about the history of Candlemas from the Society of St. Pius X:
- Candlemas falls on Feb. 2, the midpoint between the winter solstice and spring equinox.
- It used to be the pagan festival of light.
- In France, Candlemas is called La Chandeleur.
- Catholics celebrate Candlemas as the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin. Mothers were considered unclean for 40 days after giving birth, and the story goes that Mary subjected herself to the law of Moses and went to the temple to be purified. She also brought baby Jesus to the temple at that time, an event commemorated liturgically as the Presentation of the Lord.
- It's called Candlemas because churches blessed all their candles for the year on that day.
Below are six ways to recognize Candlemas, according to Beliefnet:
- Gather all the candles in your house into one room, and light them from one main candle.
- Take down any remaining Christmas decorations. Use them as compost if possible.
- Make simple jar candles by melting down wax, crayons and scented oil. Instructions here.
- Bake crepes or pancakes, which symbolize the sun's return after a winter of darkness. Alton Brown's recipe only requires two eggs, 3/4 cup milk, 1/2 cup water, 1 cup flour and butter. When you cook them, hold a coin in one hand, flip it, and try to catch it as you flip the crepe. If you succeed, you can make a wish that will come true. Top the crepes with fruit, cream or meat, and keep one in the cupboard for a good harvest.
- Eat tamales, as they do for Candlemas in Mexico. You can buy or make them. If you choose to make them, know that you'll need a lot of corn.
- Write down what you want to accomplish in the coming year. Plan the "seeds" you want to plant.