Candlemas Day, known as “Día de la Candelaria” in Mexico, is a significant religious holiday celebrated on February 2nd. It marks the end of the Christmas season and commemorates the presentation of Jesus at the Temple. But in Mexico, this day has a unique twist: it’s also a celebration of tamales.
Tamales, a traditional Mesoamerican dish made of masa (a dough made from corn) filled with meats, cheeses, fruits, or other fillings, wrapped in a corn husk and steamed, are a staple of Mexican cuisine. On Candlemas Day, they take center stage. The tradition stems from the Mexican custom of the “Rosca de Reyes” (King’s Ring) eaten on Epiphany (January 6th). Hidden inside the sweet bread is a small figurine representing baby Jesus. Whoever finds the figurine in their slice is tasked with hosting a tamale feast on Candlemas Day.
The importance of tamales in this festivity goes beyond the delicious taste. Tamales symbolize a connection to the past, as they have been prepared by indigenous cultures in Mexico for thousands of years. They also represent community and togetherness, as making tamales is often a communal activity, bringing families and friends together.
Candlemas Day, therefore, is not just a religious observance, but also a celebration of Mexican culinary tradition and community spirit. The humble tamale, enjoyed in homes across the country on this day, serves as a delicious reminder of Mexico’s rich cultural heritage. Whether you’re religious or not, everyone can appreciate the warmth and joy that comes from sharing a meal of tamales on Candlemas Day.