Candlemas or Imbolc


Lights on Brighid's cross

According to, Candlemas, or Imbolc, is one of the four principal festivals of the Irish calendar, usually celebrated by the Gaels, other Celtic cultures, and modern Pagans at the beginning of February. Originally dedicated to the goddess Brigid, it was subverted by Christianity as St Brigid’s Day.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, Candlemas is defined as “A Christian festival held on 2 February to commemorate the purification of the Virgin Mary (after childbirth, according to Jewish law) and the presentation of Christ in the Temple. Candles were traditionally blessed at this festival.


An examination of the etymology from the Merriam-Webster dictionary shows the term, Candlemas, comes from the Middle English candela masse, from Old English candelmæsse, from candel + mæsse mass, feast; from the candles blessed and carried in celebration of the feast. Its first known use was before 12th century.


The question is, which term do you use? And why?







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