History of Candlemas
Near the end of the winter season, as ancient people looked forward to the planting season of spring, many different cultures found ways to celebrate this shift from the cold and dark days to a happier and more productive time of year.
Hypapante (Ὑπαπαντή, “Meeting” in Greek). In Western Christianity, the traditional name for the day is Candlemas, which is also known as the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin, and the Meeting of the Lord. In some liturgical churches, Vespers (or Compline) on the Feast of the Presentation marks the end of the Epiphany season. The earliest reference to specific liturgical rites surrounding the feast are by the intrepid nun Egeria, during her pilgrimage to the Holy Land (381–384).
Ancient Celts took this time of year to honor the Goddess Brigid. Brigid was the Goddess of purification and fertility. They would honor her by processing from the village across the fields while praying for the health of their soil before planting. The Romans associated their festival to the God Lupercus. This was their God of fertility and shepherds, again playing into the desire to shake off winter’s bindings and bring fertility and light to the planting time.
When Christianity was moving through the world, they too decided to place a festival of light around this time of year. Candlemas in the Christian tradition is better known by two different names – The Feast of the Presentation of our Lord Jesus and The Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
While it is customary for Christians in some countries to remove their Christmas decorations on Twelfth Night (Epiphany Eve) as most do here in Zakynthos, those in other Christian countries historically remove them on Candlemas.
On Candlemas, many Zakynthians, also bring their candles to their local church, where they are blessed and then used for the rest of the year; for Christians, these blessed candles serve as a symbol of Jesus Christ, who referred to himself as the Light of the World.
In Zakynthos the church of Faneromeni, will be celebrating this day with α religious ceremony.
Superstition or not?
Today the sun is shining. If folk wisdom is true, March will not be a good month as far as weather goes. The Zakynthian saying “Καλοκαιριά τση Παπαντής, μαρτιάτικος Χειμώνας”.. meaning if we will have a summery Candlemas day, then winter will be in March.