Sunday, February 3, 2013

Dia De La Candelaria


On February second Christians all over the world celebrate Candlemas Day. Traditionally on this day, candles to be used in the church throughout  the coming year were brought into the church and a blessing was said over them by the priest. Thus the day became known as The Festival Day or “Mass” of the Candles.

Candlemas Day is observed by many different religious denominations and is known by several different names. A couple of the most common being, the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin, and the Meeting of the Lord. According to Jewish law it was necessary for a woman to bring her baby to the temple 40 days after the birth of the child. She would then undergo a purification ceremony. Since Jesus was born on December twenty fifth he would have been taken to the temple on February second. The picture below is a stained glass window at St. Michael’s Cathedral in Toronto showing the baby Jesus in the temple.


Photo by Wikipedia


This was all news to me, which is surprising considering my rather strict Anglican upbringing. The main significance that the second of February has always held for me is that it is Groundhog Day. It is the mid-way point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox and the legends surrounding it are many and varied throughout the world. Here in Mexico it is an interesting blend of the old and the new, of science, nature, legend and religion. Although Dia de la Candalaria is celebrated with religious ceremonies, parties, fireworks and cohetes, that is not the end of the affair. It goes on for a week.

One important tradition during this time involves the Niño Dios, a representation of the Christ child in the form of a doll. It is not uncommon for a family to own a Niño Dios, which they place in a nativity scene. On January sixth, Dia de Tres Reyes, or Three Kings Day the Niño Dios, along with all the other kids in the house, is brought gifts by the three magi.

On that evening there is usually a party during which the rosca de reyes, a ring of sweet bread is served. Somewhere hidden inside the bread is a figurine of the baby Jesus and the individual who finds this figurine is required to become the “Godparent” of the Niño Dios and is responsible for him until Dia de la Candelaria, when they will dress him in beautiful clothes and take him to the temple to be blessed. After this all the remnants of Christmas are put away until the next year and the “Godparent” serves atole and tamales to friends and family at a party that evening. Hence the fireworks and cohetes.


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Parque Juárez


It is also the time of year to perform the blessings of the seeds and prepare the land for spring planting. In San Miguel the beautiful Parque Juárez is transformed into the biggest plant and flower sale that I have ever seen. Crowds stroll through the myriad of offerings, choosing what will go into their gardens this Spring. Young boys with carts or wheelbarrows weave in and out amid the throngs delivering plants from vendor to car. Whether you want fresh herbs for your kitchen garden, palms beside your pool or bromeliads for your forest hideaway you can find them at  Parque Juárez during  the week of Candelaria.


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Heave Ho


It seems to me that holidays and celebrations take on a whole new meaning in Mexico. Maybe it’s the rich history and strong traditions that make the difference. Maybe it’s the outlook of the people here. Or maybe it’s just that Mexico sure knows how to party!


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  1. Thank you for posting this interesting and informative blog, it is some really useful information on a subject i am interested in. I am currently in Peru and everyone in the region I am in, everyone is getting ready to celebrate La Fiesta de la Candelaria. I found this article, which is a bit like your blog, about this tradition. It may also interest you: Thanks!

    1. You're very welcome Muriel. Candaleria here in San Miguel is great, I particularly like the gigantic plant and flower sale! Thank you for the article, I look forward to reading it.

  2. I hate that I'm missing Candelaria.......

    1. But I bet you are having a wonderful time with all the grand kids! We actually got out of Parque Juarez with only 2 new plants.

  3. Great article--and great photos! I especially love the photos from Parque Juárez.

    Here is more information about February 2 and the Niño Dios:

    And tamales! El Día de la Candelaria is especially about tamales!

    Mexico Cooks!

  4. Thanks Cristina, I just love the plant sale in Parque Juárez.

    I actually read your post about Dia de la Candalaria. It was great. Much more informative and in-depth than mine. I missed the tamales though! That was great too. Thank you.