THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 2: An ancient Jewish tradition is marked by Christians today, as both Eastern and Western Christians commemorate the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple (also known as Candlemas. Wikipedia has details). When Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the Temple, 40 days after His Nativity, the Holy Family was approached by two prophets—both of whom foretold Jesus’ future endeavors.
On this, one of the oldest Church festivals, it has become traditional for a priest to bless his congregation’s candles for the coming year on the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple (thus the alternative name of Candlemas). This ritual is carried into the home by some Christians, as they light numerous candles and enjoy traditional meals of French crepes or Mexican tamales. Today, it remains common for the recipient of the baby or coin in the Three Kings Day cake to pay for the Candlemas tamales and throw a Candlemas party. (Get recipes, traditions and more at FishEaters.) In the UK, Candlemas weather can predict the spring—similar to the German-derived Groundhog Day; for those who follow the older ways of the Church, Christmas decorations are taken down on Candlemas Eve.