Candlemas Day © Erika Smith
Marking the end of the festive season, 40 days after Christmas, Candlemas Day (Candelaria) is a nationwide traditional celebration, partly a Catholic tradition and partly a pre-Hispanic ritual. The day is primarily a family celebration and a time of reunions and religious worship; often a chosen member of each family hosts a party, offering tasty tamales and atole (a beverage made from corn). There are numerous street parades with groups carrying representations of Baby Jesus to church where special masses are held. This aspect of the festival is clearly a nod to the Jewish tradition of waiting 40 days to present a newborn baby at the temple, which is the origin of the Catholic celebration. The 2nd of February is also the mid-way point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox and is therefore a date celebrated in many cultures as a marker of seasonal change (for instance, Groundhog Day). The festival is celebrated all over Mexico but places like Mexico City, Veracruz and Tlacotalpan host the biggest markets, street parties, and bullfights, turning the religious celebration into a festive, public affair; whereas the smaller towns and villages often restrict their celebrations to the church and home.
Venue: Streets and churches throughout the city
Date: 2 February annually