In the Church of England, the Presentation of Christ in the Temple is a Principal Feast celebrated either on 2nd February or on the Sunday between 28 January and 3 February, i.e. today.
Candlemas, 2nd February, 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.
Traditionally the Western term "Candlemas" (or Candle Mass) referred to the practice whereby a priest on 2 February blessed beeswax candles for use throughout the year, some of which were distributed to the faithful for use in the home. On Candlemas night, many people placed 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 Imbolc, the Celtic festival of light, dedicated to the goddess Brigit (also spelled Brighid and various other ways). This ancient festival marked the mid-point of winter, half way between the winter solstice (shortest day) and the spring equinox. Some people lit candles to scare away evil spirits on the dark winter nights.
People believed that Candlemas predicted the weather for the rest of the winter.
If Candlemas Day be fair and bright
Winter will have another fight.
If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain,
Winter won't come again.
Here, yesterday was sunny, cold and very bright (or so it seemed after weeks of poor weather) so it looks like Winter will be back again before we can start to celebrate the birth of a new year in the garden.
For some people, different superstitions surround this festival. For instance, if a candle drips on one side when carried in church on Candlemas, this denotes a death of a family member during the year. If someone brings snowdrops into the house on Candlemas day it symbolises a parting or death. Any Christmas decorations not taken down by Twelfth Night (January 5th) should be left up until Candlemas Day and then taken down.