This feast commemorates the purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the presentation of Christ in the temple, which took place 40 days after his birth as Jewish law required. It is also called Candlemas day, since the blessing of candles takes place on this feast.
I have been browsing around online and through a few of my favorite books, trying to collect ideas of things I might do with my children to commemorate this feast, and so I thought I would take a second and share them with you all.
First of all, on the Eve of Candlemas, we will take down the last of our Christmas decorations and store them away till next year, since this is the last day we see the infant Jesus in the Gospel readings. This old poem, Ceremony Upon Candlemas Eve, is about doing just that:
Down with the rosemary, and so
Down with the bays and misletoe ;
Down with the holly, ivy, all,
Wherewith ye dress’d the Christmas Hall :
That so the superstitious find
No one least branch there left behind :
For look, how many leaves there be
Neglected, there (maids, trust to me)
So many goblins you shall see.
On Candlemas day, which is also First Saturday, we will all go to Mass. If I can get them all together in time, we will bring along all our candles for the year as well, and ask our pastor to bless them.
I think I will also plan a breakfast of cinnamon rolls, since this spice is associated with the Blessed Virgin. (Sirach 24:15 “Like cinnamon, or fragrant balm, I give forth perfume.”)
In one of my favorite liturgical year resources, Celebrating the Faith in the Home, it says:
The doves that Mary and Joseph brought with them to the temple should also be incorporated into your Candlemas observance. They are significant because they demonstrate the Holy Couple’s poverty, for the doves were only the alternate sacrifice for the poor not able to afford the prescribed offering.
I absolutely love the centerpiece Matilda made last year which incorporates the doves. I hope to make one like it with the children and use it as the centerpiece for our candlelit dinner that night! Isn’t it beautiful?
In another favorite resource, The Year and Our Children, the author, Mary Reed Newland, recommends having a shadow-box show and a family procession. She says:
After dinner the children tell the story of the Purification and the Presentation and present it in their shadow-box theater…
…This night, after the story is told and the theater is alight, we say the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary while we meditate on this scene.
Then we have our family procession with lighted candles. Small paper cuffs keep the wax from dripping on hands. The babies have their candles alight in candlesticks on the mantel. All through the downstairs we walk, with a grownup reading the Antiphons for the procession of the morning and the children joining in hymns. We sing Salve Regina in English, and O Sanctissima, and the familiar “Hail Holy Queen, Enthroned Above.” Families who know chant well have a large repertoire of songs to choose from, and for those who are anxious to add to their repertoire or improve it, the Pius X Hymnal is an excellent investment. We have just been given one by a holy friend who is anxious that we improve our repertoire. Bless her!
Doesn’t that sound like fun? The directions for making this shadow-box production can be found in The Year and Our Children, in the Advent/Christmas edition of Celebrating the Faith in the Home, as well as in Art 1 for Young Catholics. You can also find directions online here.
Catholic Culture also gives a few suggestions of things to do, including:
- Read Luke 2:22-35, the account of the presentation including the Canticle of Simeon.
- Meditate on the constant fiat of Our Lady of Sorrows, who embraced the will of God even as Simeon predicted that a sword would pierce her heart.
Oh! Don’t miss checking out last years Lovliness of Candlemas Fair over at Blessed Among Men. It contains links to so many wonderful posts.
If you have any other ideas, please leave them in the comments. I would love to hear them!