Feb. 1, 2022
This year, celebrate Candlemas at home! Candlemas is a beautiful holiday full of rich traditions and nods to ancient customs.
Candlemas takes its name from the candles carried into the Temple during Jesus’ presentation as an infant. Candlemas, from Candle Mass, is celebrated on February 2 (40 days after Christmas), otherwise known as the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. The presentation of a firstborn son into the Temple was an ancient Jewish ritual. We celebrate, also, Mary’s devotion to Mosaic law by attending the ritualistic purification in the Temple (Leviticus 12:2-8).
This day is multi-faceted as it speaks to ancient Jewish laws, tells us how Mary and Joseph observed the ancient Jewish laws, and features Anna (an elderly prophetess) and Simeon (a man “righteous and devout”). In fact, Simeon prophesied about Jesus to Mary. Here is a beautiful handout from BuildFaith which outlines more of the history.
While there are no “official” church traditions around Candlemas in the United States, many European countries observe the holiday as a day for purification.
- In France, many people eat crepes on Candlemas. Each family member prepares and cooks a crepe while holding a coin in hand. This is believed to assure wealth and happiness until the next Candlemas celebration.
- Tamales are a fun Candlemas tradition. This year, support local businesses in your area by ordering tamales and sharing them as a family! For friends in the Chestnut Hill/Mt. Airy/Germantown area, we recommend Mi Puebla Restaurant & Bakery, El Poquito, and Tamalex Restaurant.
- Weather Predictions were a way that people living in medieval times could connect with Candlemas. An old English song goes: "If Candlemas be fair and bright, Come winter, have another flight; If Candlemas bring clouds and rain, Go winter, and come not again." I wonder what other "holiday" we celebrate on Feb. 2 that includes weather predictions?
- Light a candle (or turn on a battery-operated candle) during your mealtime(s) or prayer time(s). If there are enough, give each person a candle to hold. What does it feel like to pray with candlelight?
Join us at LIFT on Feb. 6 as we celebrate this beautiful and fascinating day!
If you partake in any of these traditions, please share with them with us! Have a very happy, light-filled Candlemas!
Anne Alexis Harra
Minister for Children & Youth
Anne Alexis Harra (she/her) was born and raised in Wilmington, DE. She and her beloved partner, Cole (he/him) currently live in Manayunk. Anne Alexis graduated from Washington College in May 2019 with a B.A. in English and a minor in Philosophy.
Anne Alexis has served on the Diocesan Council in the Episcopal Church in Delaware, as well as the Racial Justice & Reconciliation Commission, and the Diocesan Assessment Committee. Since moving to Philadelphia in January 2021, she has served on the DioPA Youth Leaders Team and the DioPA Dismantling Racism for Youth Leaders Team. She is passionate about children's spirituality and using education as a force for good in their spiritual lives.
Beginning with the waters of baptism, Anne Alexis has devoted her life to serving God in the Episcopal Church. Raised on Godly Play in Sunday school and moving into a tight-knit youth group, she is aware of the positive impact that the Church’s presence can have in the life of a young person. She is passionate about encouraging children and youth to explore their faith on a personal level while also committing to a community-centered effort to enact change for the greater good.
Anne Alexis is passionate about racial justice and healing, as well as advocating for the rights of children in the context of the Christian faith. She hopes for a church where all of God's beloved are welcomed, heard, and included. She seeks and envisions a church where every member feels the true love of God in Christ. Anne Alexis is deeply aware of the profound impact of Jesus' unyielding love for all, including the most tender and vulnerable in our society: children. Hopeful for a day when all marginalized peoples are treated with equity, she continues "to seek and serve Christ in all persons." The Baptismal Covenant and Sacrament of Eucharist guide her ministry.
Anne Alexis’ father owns and is president of a local funeral home in Wilmington. Some of her earliest childhood memories include observing him engage with bereaved families in a way that can only be described as ministerial. Her mother is a hospice nurse who guides her patients and families through a dignified palliative care stage. Anne Alexis’ parents have left a huge impression on her heart. A ministerial goal she has at St. Martin’s is exploring the often taboo topics of dying and death in the hopeful context of the gospels.
In her free time, she enjoys weightlifting, reading, spending time with her family (notably her godson, Will), and watching new shows with her beloved cats by her side. She and Cole enjoy trying eclectic restaurants in their neighborhood -- observing COVID restrictions, of course!