Faith Formation

Ideas for Observing Candlemas

November 6, 2014
Lifelong Formation

Today’s guest blogger is Jerusalem Jackson Greer, author of A Homemade Year: The Blessings of Cooking, Crafting and Coming Together. Her complete bio is at the end of the article.

Bonfires and Tamales: Observing Candlemas

I discovered the celebration of Candlemas three years ago while doing research for my first book, and fell instantly in-love with this quiet mid-winter celebration of hope and light. Early February is generally the time of year when everyone begins to grow weary of winter’s persistent darkness, biting winds and cold toes, and the longing for Spring’s sunny disposition begins in earnest. Candlemas comes to us with its warmth and light in this moment, shush-ing our anxious minds like a doting grandmother, calling us into the moment, the future safe and secure in tomorrow’s care.

Here are a few easy ways to observe Candlemas this Sunday (February 2) in your community or at home. Each of these ideas can be adapted for traditional formation for both children and adult classes, for gatherings outside of Sunday mornings, or for the home.

  • Celebrate Candlemas like the French– La Chandeleur is the French observance of Candlemas and involves making and eating lots of crepes! Crepes can be eaten sweetly (breakfast style) or savory (used similarly to tortillas.) You can make crepes during a formation lesson and discuss how those in other countries observe their faith. Serve with simple toppings such as fruit or yogurt. If you have the opportunity to take this further, create a whole meal out of the crepes by setting up a savory and sweet Crepe bar with lots of filling and topping options – from shredded chicken to Nutella!
  • Celebrate Candlemas Mexican style – Dia de la Candaleria is the Mexican observation of Candlemas and involves a meal of tamales and hot chocolate. Perhaps your group meets for dinner, or enjoys lunch together after church. Take this opportunity to visit a local authentic Mexican restaurant together or to try cooking traditional tamales together as a group. Make an extra batch or two and deliver them to a veterans home, those who are housebound, or to a family with a new baby.
  • Bless the Bees – Another traditional observance of Candlemas is the traditional blessing of Beeswax Candles. The candles can be blessed and then used by families in their homes during feast days and other special celebrations throughout the year. Beeswax Candle making kits can be found in most craft stores and online. This is a fun craft that parishioners ages four and up can easily participate in depending on the type of kit you purchase.
  • Enjoy the story The Candles by Hans Christian Anderson, along with the readings from Luke 2:21-40.
  • Host a Bonfire Gathering – For the past two years our family has hosted a small Candlemas gathering in which we have had a bonfire in the backyard, lit candles, sang This Little Light of Mine, eaten tamales and devoured a chocolate ganache crepe cake. This simple little party of our very best friends has become one of my favorite nights of the year and requires very little prep work other than gathering the wood, scrubbing the toilet, and ordering the tamales from the little Mexican grocery store down the street. (You can read about last years celebration on my blog.)

For more Candlemas inspiration you can visit my Candlemas Pinterest Board, and if you have a unique and creative Candlemas celebration, please leave a comment, I would love to know all about it!

“Juggling songs of praise with cries for help. Her words and works inspire..” – Publishers Weekly

Jerusalem Jackson Greer is a writer, speaker, retreat leader, nest-fluffer, urban farm-gal, and author of A Homemade Year: The Blessings of Cooking, Crafting and Coming Together (which includes a chapter on Candlemas, complete with crafts and recipes.)  Jerusalem lives with her husband and two sons in a 1940s cottage in Central Arkansas at the crossroads of beauty and mess with an ever-changing rotation of pets, including a hen house full of chickens and a Hungarian Sheep Dog mutt. As a family, they are attempting to live a slower version of modern life.  She blogs about all of this and more at

David Stickley

Formation Associate

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