Some years ago, we settled upon February 2 as the date we would celebrate the end of the Christmas season. Not because it is Groundhog Day in the United States (!), but because it marks the feast day of Candlemas in the church year.
“This feast [of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple] came to be called by the shorter and more beautiful name of Candlemas because the day it celebrates, recorded in Luke 2:22-40, is the day the old man Simeon took the baby in his arms and recognised him as ‘A Light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of thy people Israel.’ It became the custom of the church to light a central candle and bring it to the altar to represent the Christ-light, and also on the occasion of this feast to bless all the ‘lights’ or candles in the church, praying that all who saw that outward and visible light would remember also and be blessed by the inner light of Christ ‘who lightens everyone who comes into the world.’”
This PDF is a liturgy for family prayer to walk us through the presentation of Jesus in the temple. It relies upon Malcolm Guite and Benedict XVII (whose Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives is one of my favorite devotional readings for the Christmas season).
If you like this little liturgy, check back next year and it will probably be improved upon, or at least revised in small details.
Listen to Malcolm’s poem, “A Sonnet for Candlemas,” at his blog.
Now we shall put away our Christmas decorations until next year. Maybe even sing a last carol or two. Thankfully, however, there are not 40 verses of that one song to sing…
“On the 40th day of Christmas
Mary and Joseph gave to the priests
Two turtle doves
And a song from Simeon and Anna…”