Candlemas Day was this February 2nd. Of course, we don’t celebrate it the same way in all parts of the world; each country has its own traditions. And since you’ve probably wondered how that day is celebrated in Mexico, we’ll tell you all the secrets behind this holiday.
The origin of Candlemas Day
In Mexico, the Candlemas Day is one of the country’s most longed-for festivities, right after the Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the Day of the Dead, and Christmas. Candlemas Day has its origins in two biblical events: the presentation of the Baby Jesus in the temple of Jerusalem and the purification of the Virgin after she gives birth. In fact, February 2nd is the 40th day after the birth of Jesus. According to the law of the Old Testament, at that time, those 40 days after the birth of a child allowed the mother to be purified. On the last day of this ritual, the child was presented to the church.
The name of this day refers to the candles used during the night procession that Christians used to handle on the night of this celebration.
How is Candlemas Day celebrated in Mexico?
In Mexico, the Epiphany and the Candlemas are linked, since it is the person who extracts the child from the Rosca de Reyes (a kind of bread) on January 6th the responsible for organizing the festivities of February 2nd. And as you probably know, Mexicans love to celebrate everything with food! That’s why Candlemas Day is celebrated by eating tamales and drinking atole; both made with corn.
Tamal is a corned-based dough, whose grains have been previously soaked in lime water as if they were making corn tortillas “by hand.” Oiled, this dough is then wrapped in a corn or banana leaves and filled with meat, vegetables, cheese, fruits, and other ingredients. The tamales can then be sweet or savory, and for their preparation, they are steamed. This gift of corn has existed since pre-Hispanic times. A hot drink often accompanies it, also made from corn, called atole.
In addition to enjoying tamales and atole on Candlemas Day, the most faithful Mexicans also hold processions and attend masses with figures and dolls of the Child God dressed in elegant clothing. Although the origin of this custom is not clear, it is said that it is to imitate the Virgin Mary at the moment she presented her child in the temple.
The importance of tamales on Candlemas Day
In the Aztec calendar, February 2nd coincides with the blessing of the corn at the beginning of the harvest. To bless the grains for sowing in the new cycle, the inhabitants of many villages bring ears of corn to the church. For this reason, Candlemas Day this celebrated with tamales and atole made from corn.
Although they are eaten a lot on Candlemas Day, tamales are very popular in Mexico throughout the year. You can find them in every corner of the capital, but also other cities in the country. Small traveling traders transport their tamales’ pots on non-motorized tricycles to sell them on the streets.
As you can see, Mexico has rich traditions, including foods that contribute to the charm of this country, one more reason to come and visit Mexico with NexusTours! And you, how do you celebrate Candlemas Day at home? If you know a great tamales recipe, don’t hesitate to send it to us!