February 2 is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. This special feast day was first celebrated in the Roman Catholic Church in the 6th century. It was first called the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which was accompanied by solemn blessings and processions with candles; hence, it was popularly called Candlemas.

In the Bible, the Mosaic Law commanded that a woman who had given birth to a son should, after 40 days, offer a sacrifice for her purification. Hence, this feast day is celebrated 40 days after Christmas. With the 40 days of Mary’s purification now completed, she must go up to the Temple and offer to God her Child Jesus.

The Blessing of Candles is one of the three principal Blessings observed by the Church during the year; the other two are those of the ashes on Ash Wednesday and of the palms on Palm Sunday. The candles must be made from beeswax and should be used for devotional purposes; for example, candles are to be placed on the family altar, candles are lit during family prayer, candles used for Advent, etc. Traditionally, these candles have been lit in the homes of the faithful during storms and times of trouble, especially near the bed of a dying Christian to remind those who are present of the Light of Christ and for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary.