Friday, February 03, 2006

Candelaria - The Blessing of the Infant Jesus

The first I knew of Candelaria, was in Yucatan many years ago. We were traveling through small villages photographing the 16th Century churches. And on February 2, we were in Cholula. I was photographing in a church when people started coming in with small figures dressed as baby Jesus. We sat through the Mass and since then I have learned a bit more about the day.

By the middle of the 5th Century, Christians were lighting candles on February 2 to symbolize that Jesus Christ was the light, the truth and the way. But it appears that isn't the only significance attached to the day. In the Jewish religion, Mary would have been purified 40 days after the birth of Jesus so that she could enter the temple to worship. It is accepted that the infant Jesus was taken to the temple on his 40th day to be blessed.

Here in Mexico and perhaps in other Catholic countries, people take their home altar figures of baby Jesus all dressed in new clothes....remember when I told my readers at Christmas time about the booths of baby Jesus clothes that were being sold in the the church to be blessed. In addition they bring some candles to be blessed. And the people from the campos bring seeds that will soon be planted to be blessed.

It is the official end of the Christmas season but there are also symbolic gestures around the growing season.

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