I really enjoy Dia de la Candelaria or Candlemas celebration in Mexico. The reason is because it represents a time of family reunion. It’s a time when Mexican families get together to eat tamales, drink atole – a typical hot Mexican beverage made with corn flour and other ingredients – or champurrado -chocolate atole.
At the same time, Dia de la Candelaria represents the end of the Christmas festivities which start at the end of December and finish on February 2nd with the celebration of Dia de la Candelaria.
Having said so, let’s begin by explaining the meaning of Dia de la Candelaria.
What is the Meaning of Dia de la Candelaria?
Dia de la Candelaria is also known as Candlemas because people bring candles to the church to be blessed by the clergy during the religious celebrations that take place on February 2nd.
This tradition is also known as the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. According to Jewish traditions, a newborn had to be presented at the temple 40 days after his/her birth. Jesus is said to be born on December 25th.. Dia de la Candelaria takes place on February 2nd.
Dia de la Candelaria is also associated with the purification of the Virgin Mary after childbirth.
How is Dia de la Candelaria celebrated in Mexico?
On Dia de la Candelaria on February 2nd, people bring their candles to be blessed during the religious ceremonies that take place at churches during this day. People use these candles throughout the year for different religious purposes.
In certain regions in Mexico, there are processions with the figure of the baby Jesus, representing his presentation at the temple.
One of the most distinctive traditions of this day is for families to get together to eat tamales. The person in charge of bringing the tamales is the one who found the baby figurine in the Rosca de Reyes or King’s Bread – an oval shaped bread with a hole in the middle eaten on Epiphany on January 6th.
A fun fact about the Rosca de Reyes is that most often, the baby figurine is found in those sections of the bread covered with sugar. Most of the people, including myself, go for those pieces of the bread because they tend to be the yummiest! Hence, several years I’ve ended up being the godmother of baby Jesus and responsible of bringing the tamales on Dia de la Candelaria. Since the figurine of baby Jesus symbolizes the responsibility of caring for and protecting Jesus, it’s a privilege for me to be the godmother of the baby figurine.
Four Facts you probably didn’t know about Dia de la Candelaria
- The reason why we eat tamales on Dia de la Candelaria is because tamales is an act of hard work and love and of communal effort, with family and friends sometimes coming together to prepare and enjoy the meal.
- Dia de la Candelaria falls on the same day as Groundhog Day, on February 2nd, in the United States. Both traditions have similarities in predicting the weather. The best known weather rhyme goes: “If Candlemas Day be fair and bright, winter will have another fight. If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain, winter won't come again".
- In some rural areas in Mexico, farmers perform rituals and ceremonies related to agricultural activities. This includes blessings for crops and livestock.
- There are several festivities around the world that share similarities with Dia de la Candelaria, such as:
- Maslenitsa in Rusia, also known as Butter Week or Cheesefare Week. It’s a
Russian celebration that marks the end of winter and beginning of spring.
- Lichtmess in Germany. Lichtmess is also known as Candlemas. Celebrated on
February 2nd as well, it’s associated with the blessing of candles and a time to
predict the weather.
- Imbolc. Also called Saint Brigid’s Day. It’s a Celtic festival marking the beginning
of spring. It’s celebrated on February 1st. Candles are lit to represent the
As you may have noticed from the above facts, Dia de la Candelaria has a diverse and multifaceted nature involving cultural, religious, and even weather predicting elements. It’s a tradition which I will continue celebrating surrounded by my friends and family for the years to come.
And now, I am off to eat my tamal with mole poblano with chicken, my favourite one!
Let me know in the comments which is your favourite type of tamales 🙂