XXVI. "The fortieth day after the Epiphany is undoubtedly celebrated here with the very highest honor, for on that day there is a procession, in which all take part, in the Anastasis, and all things are done in their order with the greatest joy, just as at Easter. All the priests, and after them the bishop, preach, always taking for their subject that part of the Gospel where Joseph and Mary brought the Lord into the Temple on the fortieth day, and Symeon and Anna the prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, saw Him, treating of the words which they spake when they saw the Lord, and of that offering which His parents made. And when everything that is customary has been done in order, the sacrament is celebrated, and the dismissal takes place."
This would make February 14th Candlemas, but in the 4th century Rome set the Nativity of Christ to December 25, Epiphany to January 6 and thus the purification of a male child would occur on February 2, 40 days after the Nativity.
It the the day that candles are blessed, because of the words that were spoken by Simeon and Anna when they saw Christ and the light of the world was revealed in the Temple. Some call it a "paegan celebration of lights" and call it Imbolc. Imbolc is found equidistant between the Solstice and the Equinox and usually occurs on February 2. Thus, it is sometimes seen as another paegan celebration coopted by the Christian church.
By this time, all greenery is removed from the halls:
- Down with the rosemary, and so
- Down with the bays and mistletoe;
- Down with the holly, ivy, all,
- Wherewith ye dress'd the Christmas Hall"
- — Robert Herrick (1591–1674), "Ceremony upon Candlemas Eve"
As the light grows longer,
The cold grows stronger.
If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter will have another flight.
If Candlemas be cloud and snow,
Winter will be gone and not come again.
A farmer should on Candlemas day,
Have half his corn and half his hay.
On Candlemas day if thorns hang a drop,
You can be sure of a good pea crop.
- Old poem of Scottish origin, author unknown