The Dia de la Candelaria (Day of the Candles) is, as usual, a big feast in Mexico. In Mexico this has been celebrated since the Colonial times.
Día de la Candelaria, like many other Mexican celebrations, represents a fusion of pre-Hispanic traditions and Catholic beliefs. Celebrated on February 2nd, it falls forty days after Christmas, and is celebrated by Catholics as the “Feast of Purification” or as the “Presentation of Christ at the Temple.” According to Jewish law it was customary to bring a newborn baby to the temple after that period of time had passed. So Jesus would have been taken to the temple on February second.
Also, this is the day when the Nativity scene is put away with a party given by the person who got the Baby Jesus in his/her piece of bread during the Rosca de Reyes celebration. The person who was “selected” to be the Godparent presents the baby Jesus with a new christening gown and oversees the Christening of the baby.
Obviously, the Infant Jesus is a very important part of the Christmas celebration in Mexico. First, on Christmas eve, the niño Dios is placed in the Nativity scene, on January 6th, King’s Day, the child is brought presents from the Magi, and on February 2nd, the child is dressed in fine clothes and presented in the church.
Basically, the Dia de la Candelaria (Day of the Candles) the Godparents (in some places it might be the same people who sang the Baby Jesus to sleep on the night of the 24th, in some other places it will be the ones who found the Baby Jesus in the Rosca de Reyes or Kings cake) must go to the house of the “owners” of the Baby Jesus, to dress him and to take him to Church to be presented, just like Mary and Joseph did with Jesus, forty days after he was born. The first year the Baby Jesus is dressed in white to represent El nino de las Palomas (The Child of the Doves) or El Nino de las Azucenas (The Child of the White Lillies), which signifies the purity of his being.
The second year the Baby Jesus is dressed with a blue, yellow or pink gown and the third year and after, He is dressed according to a devotion of the Godparents, most usually, the Nino de la Candelaria (Child of the Candles) with a white gown, a candle in the left hand and flowers in the right. The first time the Baby is taken to the Temple, the Baby Jesus lays on the tray since He is still little and can not walk yet.
The Padrino (Godfather) also takes candles to Church. In some agricultural communities it id accustomed to take seeds to be blessed and to pray for a year of abundant harvest. The candles and some of the seeds are then used to adorn the Altar of the Sorrows.
At the end of the ceremony the Padrino (Godfather) returns the Baby Jesus to his “owners,” who will light the candles. That afternoon, or evening, there will be a traditional “tamalada” (party in which tamales are served…see associated article elsewhere in newsletter) where the tamales are made according to the custom of the place (there are many different styles of tamales in the country.) The tamales are accompanied by chocolate, atole de pinole (A drink made of corn meal and pinole [sweetened toasted corn meal], sometimes sweetened and mixed with cocoa, cinnamon or aniseed) or champurrado (a chocolaty flavored thick drink).