Candlemas Day is celebrated in Mexico with tamales

Candelaria Day, which is celebrated every February 2, is one of the most well-known and important festivals for Mexican Catholics. But what does this tradition consist of? And why is it so celebrated among Mexicans?

Every January 6, many Hispanic-American countries celebrate this day by eating a Rosca that includes a figure of the Child Jesus. It is a symbolic way of remembering the day the Three Wise Men from the East came to Bethlehem to worship the newborn son of God.

In Mexican tradition, whoever gets this figure is responsible for preparing a fiesta of tamales on February 2, the day of Candlemas. What is the reason for this custom?


Tradition of Jewish origin

To understand the origins of the day of Candelaria, one must go back more than 2,000 years in time to the year Jesus was born. In Jewish tradition, after a baby was born, both the mother and the newborn had to wait 40 days to clean their impurities and be able to visit the temple.

Born on December 25 and following Jewish tradition, Mary and Jesus visited the temple in Jerusalem for the first time to be presented to him and purified.

In Mexico, in addition to this Judeo-Christian tradition, there is also another pre-Hispanic custom associated with the Aztec culture. And it is that February 2 marked the beginning of the new year in the Mexican calendar Tláloc, Chalchiuhtlicue, and Quetzalcóatl.

Yucatecan tamales (Photo: Archive)

Tamales are one of the flagship dishes of Mexican cuisine and have been present in Mexican culture for centuries. And, according to legend, it was precisely with corn that man was created.

Therefore, on February 2, Candlemas Day is celebrated by eating tamales. This delicious dish is also present in other festivities such as Christmas and is usually accompanied by atole or hot chocolate.

Why the name of Candelaria?

Although in Mexican tradition this day is known as that of Candelaria, the truth is that in many other countries it is also celebrated on February 2 but with another name.

Some of the names by which this festival is known are The Presentation of the Lord, The Festival of Las Candelas, or The Festival of Light. And it is that, in the Christian tradition, Jesus represents the Light that came to illuminate humanity as if it were a candle or candle. Hence, in Mexico, it is known by the name of Candelaria.

As we have shared, in this celebration two traditions come together, one of Spanish and Judeo-Christian origin, and the other indigenous Mexican.

Now that you know the origin of Candlemas Day, if you were touched by the figure of the Child Jesus on the donut you ate on January 6, you know that now it is your turn to organize a party on February 2. 

Don’t forget the tamales! And enjoy!

The Yucatan Times
Newsroom



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