CANDLEMAS, the Church festival, celebrated on Feb. 2, in commemoration of the presentation of Christ in the Temple; called in the Greek Church " ri aria q rov Kvpiov ("the meet ing of the Lord," i.e., with Simeon and Anna), in the West the Purification of the Blessed Virgin (Lat. Candelaria, Festum can delarum sive luminum, etc.). The late 4th-century pilgrim Etheria (Silvia) describes its celebration at Jerusalem on Feb. 14,4o days after Epiphany; the Armenians still keep it on this day, as "the Coming of the Son of God into the Temple." The celebration spread from Jerusalem, being moved to Feb. 2, 4o days after the newly established feast of Christmas. In 542 it was established throughout the Eastern empire by Justinian. In the West, we find it (entitled, as now, Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary) in the 8th-century Gelasian Sacrarnentary, which embodies a much older tradition ; the procession was introduced by Pope Sergius I. (687-701). The blessing of candles did not come into common use until the nth th century.
In the East it has always been observed as a festival of Christ, in the West it is pre-eminently a festival of the Virgin Mother.
See L. Duchesne, Christian Worship (Eng. trans., London, ; Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. iii. (1908) .