Christmas over...? Don't forget Epiphany & Candlemas!
You may be taking your decorations down on Twelfth Night (5 Jan), commercially it may be over and the lights may be coming down (or being blown down!) in your street, but did you know that the festival of Christmas actually continues until 2 February?
6 January is the feast of Epiphany
The Epiphany is an ancient Christian feast day and is significant in a number of ways. The Western Church began celebrating the Epiphany in the 4th century where it was, and still is, associated with the visit of the magi (wise men) to the infant Jesus when God revealed himself to the world through the incarnation of Jesus. According to Matthew 2:11 they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Information from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/holydays/epiphany.shtml
2 February is Candlemas - the end of the season of Christmas
"Candlemas commemorates the ritual purification of Mary, 40 days after the birth of her son Jesus. This day also marks the ritual presentation of the baby Jesus to God in the Temple at Jerusalem.
The Gospel of Luke says that Jesus was met by Anna and Simeon. Simeon held the baby Jesus and called him a Light to the World.
Ritual purification stems back to a Jewish tradition that women were considered unclean after the birth of a child. For 40 days for a boy, and 60 days for a girl, women weren't allowed to worship in the temple. At the end of this time, women were brought to the Temple or Synagogue to be purified. After the ceremony women were allowed to take part in religious services again.
The festival is called Candlemas because this was the day that all the Church's candles for the year were blessed. On Candlemas night, many people place lighted candles in their windows at home.
Like some other Christian festivals, Candlemas draws some of its elements from Paganism. In pre-Christian times, it was the festival of light. This ancient festival marked the mid point of winter, half way between the winter solstice (shortest day) and the spring equinox.
Any Christmas decorations not taken down by Twelfth Night (January 5th) should be left up until Candlemas Day and then taken down."
Information from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/holydays/candlemas.shtml