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Day of The Candelaria (Mexico): a tradition that remains unchanged

It has been strengthened by prehispanic manners that involve corn as food and symbolic origin of man


Day of The Candelaria (Mexico): a tradition that remains unchanged

Religion costumes tend to change throughout time and many of them won’t disappear due to its linking to traditional popular practices such as food, music and harvesting. An example of this is the Day of the Candelaria celebration which has religious origins at the time that is held as a popular festivity, stated Gisela Wobeser (emeritus researcher of the Historical Investigation Institute – IIH -.

The colonial history researcher indicated that on the Day of the Candelaria the presentation of Christ-child at the temple is celebrated. This is part of a series of celebrations related to his childhood that begun on Christmas followed by the arrival of the three wise men, which bring presents and is symbolically represented by the dolls inside the traditional cake Rosca de Reyes. This process concludes on February 2nd with Candelaria.


The origin of the traditional preparation and consumption of Tamales is unclear. “Some think it comes from a cultural syncretism of pre-Hispanic costumes since it was common for the Mexican people to cook meals emanated from corn, that had a symbolic meaning and was the main nourishment among them. According to some fables, gods made several efforts in order to create men, until they came across corn from which men were embodied,” she explained.

In the country of tamale (made out of corn) they have major culinary importance; they exist in other countries of South America, but Mexico holds the biggest variety of preparation methods. There are notorious differences among the ones from Sonora that from those in Michoacán, Oaxaca, or Puebla. “It is wonderful to have a specific day on the calendar in which every Mexican should eat them”.


Von Wobeser, a number member of the Mexican Academy of History, pointed out that the Word Candelaria comes from Candela: candle; Therefore, its meaning is related to Light. “The Candelaria celebrations were originated in the Middle East during the first years of Christianism. It is linked to light, the same as Christmas, which is why trees were decorated with illumination. It was during VI century that Candelaria celebration made it to western and started to be celebrated linked to Jesus Christ’s life, because every people in early times would worship the sun and the moon as main gods, because light is life. On Christianism one of the symbols related to Jesus Christ is the sun”, he detailed.

In Mexico, he emphasized, is pretty common for people who lulls Christ-Child at the crib on Christmas Eve, to rend visit to him at the temple on February 2nd in order to be blessed. This is done in order to fill home with light.

The former director of the Mexican Academy of History and Historical Investigations of UNAM concluded: “I don’t think this celebration has been undermined but remains loyal to its original purposes in contrast to other celebrations such as Day of the Death or Christmas, that had been syncretized with costumes and traditions from other countries, particularly from the U. S.”.

Translator: Fabián Peñaloza


By: Staff


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