Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A Christian feast commemorating the purification of the Virgin Mary and the presentation of the infant Jesus in the Temple.
  • n. February 2, the day on which this feast is observed.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The festival in the Christian year that commemorates the purification of the Virgin Mary and the presentation of the infant Jesus in the Temple
  • n. A quarter day in Scotland.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The second day of February, on which is celebrated the feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary; -- so called because the candles for the altar or other sacred uses are blessed on that day.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An ecclesiastical festival held on the second day of February in honor of the presentation of the infant Christ in the temple and the purification of the Virgin Mary.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. feast day commemorating the presentation of Christ in the temple; a quarter day in Scotland

Etymologies

Middle English candelmasse, from Old English candelmæsse : candel, candle; see candle + mæsse, mass (from the blessing of candles at the feast); see mass.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From candle +‎ -mas, following the tradition that the candles to be used in church during the following year are blessed on this day (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • More on Candlemas from the always interesting Recta Ratio. posted by John at 10: 46 AM

    2 February -- Candlemas Day

  • The ceremonial to which it owes its popular name, Candlemas, is the blessing of candles in church and the procession of the faithful, carrying them lighted in their hands.

    Leap Year -- Day

  • In Poland the Feast of the Presentation or Candlemas is also referred to as the "Feast of Mary of the Candles" because Mary brought to the world the "Light of the World", Jesus.

    Happy Last Day of Little Christmas!

  • The name Candlemas comes from the activities associated with the feast.

    Catholic Fire

  • In our own time, many of us still carry on the tradition in the first week of the month: to astronomers with faith in math and science, it will occur this year on February 3rd; to Christians who observe their "cross-quarter" holiday between Christmas and Easter, February 2nd is known as Candlemas in northern latitudes and Lammas or Litha in the southern hemisphere.

    Brighid, Goddess In-Between | miscellani.org

  • I thought they were really clever and would make a great treat for the Feast of the Presentation also called Candlemas - as they really do look like candles.

    Edible Candles for Candlemas

  • It is also known as Candlemas Day because since early times, candles have been blessed and carried in procession in honor of Christ, the Light of the World.

    Candlemas Day

  • “For,” said Harrison to himself, “the carles have little eneugh gear at ony rate, and if I call in the red-coats and take away what little they have, how is my worshipful lady to get her rents paid at Candlemas, which is but a difficult matter to bring round even in the best of times?”

    Old Mortality

  • Christmas in the North Riding of Yorkshire, says: "On the feast of St. St.phen large goose pies are made, all which they distribute among their needy neighbours, except one, which is carefully laid up, and not tasted till the purification of the Virgin, called Candlemas Day."

    A Righte Merrie Christmasse The Story of Christ-Tide

  • An elaborate blessing for candles is provided on the feast of the Purification on 2 Feb., otherwise known as Candlemas

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 3: Brownson-Clairvaux

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