This festivity has been celebrated in Mexico for generations, and it’s a moment that brings families and friends together to enjoy this country’s typical culinary delights, but do you know what is Candelaria Day about?
February 2nd, Candelaria Day
To enjoy the Mexican tradition of Candelaria Day, you don’t have to be a history expert. It is enough to have participated in a reunion where the traditional “rosca de reyes” (ring-shaped cake) was cut. This cake is savored at every home in the country, specifically on January 6. On the night of January 5, the Three Wise Men visit children to bring them gifts while they sleep, therefore on January 6, with the kids’ happiness, families celebrate with a slice of this dessert.
Relatives and friends get to choose which section of the cake they’ll cut, to savor accompanied by a cup of hot chocolate, coffee, or milk. The rosca de reyes’ trick is that inside it hides small baby figurines, which represent baby Jesus; this way, those who find one of these figurines in their slice, are committed to buying tamales for everyone present, in order to enjoy during the Candelaria Day, which is celebrated on February 2.
This is an easy-to-enjoy tradition, but… Do you know where does it come from?
Meaning of the Candelaria Day
It is said that 40 days after Christmas, on February 2, the virgin went to church to purify herself, and to introduce baby Jesus to the priests. In appreciation for her son’s arrival, who came to the world lighting it up like a candle or a candela (in Spanish)… Therefore, therefore this celebration’s name.
Origin of the Candelaria Day
During the viceroyalty period in Mexico, the celebration of Candelaria Day matched the beginning of the harvest. As February started, the corn harvest was collected to prepare all kinds of Mexican typical dishes; in fact, this grain has always been the cornerstone of this country’s feeding supply.
This time of abundance allowed people to savor the delicious tamales, prepared with corn dough and some other ingredients, like chicken, pork, or beef meat.
Candelaria Virgin in Mexico
The sociologist and historian from the Acatlán Higher Studies Faculty, Arturo Cardoso states that the Candelaria Day in Mexico is a syncretism that involves pre-Hispanic traditions enriched by elements from the catholic and even the Jewish cultures.
At the beginning of the 20th Century, celebrating baby Jesus started gaining great popularity, probably due to the custom of dressing him with different attires. However, the Book of Vaikrá from the Jewish tradition states that when a woman gives birth, after 40 days she must visit a church in order to purify herself, in addition to thanking God for her son’s life, with a dove, which in time was changed for a candle, leading to what we know as the Candelaria Day.
If you wish to learn more about Mexican traditions, the best option is to visit a beautiful tourist destination, where you will get to live history firsthand. Visit the unique corners of Mexico, and reward yourself with a vacation in a colonial city or in a breathtaking all-inclusive hotel overlooking the sea of Cancun such as The Pyramid at Grand Oasis.