Photo: Ron Mader, Tamales de frijol (Some rights reserved)

February 2 is Día de la Candelaria (Candlemas) and the conclusion of Christmas season celebrated in Mexico and Spain.

This festival is full of special events and the most important blessing to the baby Jesus. On Christmas Day (December 25) godparents are chosen for the Christ Child and made responsible for placing it in its crib. On February 2, the baby Jesus is ‘woken’ from the manger and dressed.

There is a ritual that lasts three consecutive years. In the first year, the baby is dressed in white, without crown or throne. This outfit should look like the Child of the Doves, that of the lilies (azucenas), the rose (rosas), the Holy Infant of Atocha.

The second year the baby takes a throne and crown and the color of the dress is optional. People choose the dress of a saint. Until the third year he dressed as King and Emperor of the Universe, with costumes like the Child of Prague, Emperor of the World Christ. Some godparents build a new altar.

The godparents takes the baby Jesus to church to be blessed, seated on a tray or basket with flowers. They take decorated candles to be blessed when to ask for favors to the Virgin or Christ.

Today, it has become a tradition to eat tamales as people who were fortunate enough to find your piece of thread to the baby Jesus have to meet leading tamales for everyone.

Xochimilco, Mexico
In Xochimilco there is a tradition which dates before the Spanish conquest of celebrating a small wooden figure known as the “Niñopa” – perhaps a baby Huītzilōpōchtli. Many thanks to Marlene Ehrenberg for guided visits in this neighborhood.

Stray Observations

  • Candelaria is the midpoint between the winter equinox and the spring solstice.

Elsewhere on the Web
¿Comerás tamales el Día de la Candelaria? Aquí te decimos de dónde proviene esta tradición – Noticias
Día de la Candelaria en Oaxaca, un lujo – Noticias
Tamales: From The Cause of Crime to the Cause of Celebration at Candelaria@rachellaudan


Candlemas is a Christian holiday celebrated on February 2nd each year. It is also known as the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple and the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The holiday is a commemoration of the presentation of Jesus at the Temple in Jerusalem, when Mary and Joseph presented him to the priest in accordance with Jewish law. The holiday is celebrated with special services in churches, where candles are lit in honor of Jesus’ presentation. The candles are often blessed and distributed to the congregation.

In addition to the religious observance, Candlemas is also celebrated with a variety of traditional foods and activities. In some countries, it is traditional to make a special cake or bread, called a “candlemas cake”, which is decorated with candles. In other countries, it is customary to light a bonfire or to make a special soup.

Candlemas is a time for reflection and contemplation. It is a time to remember the importance of Jesus’ presentation at the Temple and to think about the meaning of his life and death. It is also a time to remember the importance of family and friends and to give thanks for all the blessings in our lives.

Fiesta de la Candelaria
Virgin of Candelaria
Holy Infant of Atocha

One thought on “Día de la Candelaria // Candlemas”
  1. In Mexico it is the tradition that the person that got the baby Jesús in the Rosca de Reyes, has the task to get the tamales for the Candelaria
    Ron it is so nice that you post our celebraciones, in Xochimilco there is a a very strange tradition of a small wooden figure the “Niño Pa”, it goes back before the Spanish arrived in América, it could be a baby Huichilopoxtli probably.

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