The Christians of the Eastern Orthodoxy celebrate Candlemas (also the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord Jesus) - a great feast (one of twelve most important) holy day which symbolizes not only the meeting of Simeon and Anna the Prophetess with baby Jesus, but also the meeting of humanity with God.
The history of the holiday
Candlemas was mentioned for the first time in a liturgical calendar of the IV century. It was not a separate holiday, it was a final day of a 40-day cycle after Epiphany.
Christians began celebrating Candlemas as a separate holiday in the IV century during the reign of Emperor Justinian.
It is related to the day when little Jesus met with Simeon and Anna the Prophetess.
Under the custom of the Old Testament, Joseph and Mary took their baby to the Jerusalem temple on the 40th day after his birth to devote him to God.
A 360-year old man Simeon met them there. He received a prediction that he would not die until he meets the Savior of the humankind. Simeon said that Jesus was this very savior. Therefore, Candlemas is considered a significant meeting of the Old and New Testament, and humanity’s meeting with the messiah.
Features of the worship
Candlemas belongs to those holidays directly dedicated to Christ. Yet, for its liturgical content it is close to Marian feast days. The image of Christ and Virgin Mary are depicted on the icon of the holiday, being equal in their significance: Simeon holds baby Savior, who symbolizes the Old Testament, and Virgin Mary, starting her Way of the Cross – letting her son save the world.
There is a tradition of sanctifying candles and giving them to the people.
Transitions and customs
Ancient Slavs has also celebrated this day, when winter meets spring. People believed that February 15 is the only time over winter when one can hear thunder.
On this day, people were singing pagan songs-charms for warmth and good summer, lighting huge bonfires near roads and telling fortunes.
The tradition to light bonfire transformed into sanctifying candles. People were keeping these candles in the corners, and believed that sanctifying candles had special power, protected the house from thunder, heavy rain and waterspouts.
There is also another tradition – people are also sanctifying water. People believe that this water is healing.
Lots of beliefs are connected with Candlemas. For instance, our ancestors believed that if water runs out of the roofs, winter will be long. If this day is sunny, the weather will be freezing. Snowstorm meant rainy spring, fair whether – good harvest.
Besides, there were some bans as well on Candlemas. For instance, people should not argue on this holiday, because it is a joyful day, when people are supposed to have a good time. In addition, people were not allowed to work, so that worldly affairs did not distract from spiritual ones.
The most positive thing one could do on Candlemas was going to the church. One should have at least come in the church, set one candle and pray.