The Presentation of Christ in the Temple - Page 2
In olden times there were a number of customs associated with Candlemas. People gathered in their parish churches for the blessing of candles and there would be processions with lighted tapers. Christmas decorations, such as holly and mistletoe, were removed on Candlemas Eve and replaced with box. The snowdrop is a flower dedicated to Saint Mary the Virgin, and at the Feast of the Purification there used to be a procession of girls, dressed in white, who sang:
“The Snowdrop, in purest white array,
First rears her head on Candlemas Day” (2)
At Blidworth in Nottinghamshire, the church is dedicated to St Mary of the Purification. In 1922, an ancient Candlemas custom of rocking the baby was re-introduced and still takes place. The baby boy rocked is the one in the village who was born nearest to Christmas Day. The cradle given in 1922 is still used for the rocking and is covered with flowers for the occasion. The year 2012 was the 90th anniversary of the re-introduction of this custom and the service was held on Sunday, 5th February. The Bishop of Sherwood, the Right Reverend Tony Porter, gave the sermon and rocked the baby. (3) (See photos on next page). It is alleged that this ancient rocking custom dates back to the 13th century and its re-introduction followed an interval of at least a century. (4)
1. Ward, B. (1915) The Holy Gospel according to St Luke, London: Catholic Truth Society.
2. N. and Q., vol 160, Jan to June 1931, p160, cited in Wright, A.R. (1938) (edited Lones, T.E.) British calendar customs. England. Vol II: fixed festivals, London: William Glaisher Ltd.
3. Thanks to Rev Hazel Robinson, Vicar of St Mary of the Purification, Blidworth, for kindly supplying this information.
4. Wright, A.R. (1938) (edited Lones, T.E.) British calendar customs. England. Vol II: fixed festivals, London: William Glaisher Ltd.