Candles and Jam Tarts for Candlemas

A representation of the Presentation of Jesus, from Kerala, India.

40 days after Christmas it’s Candlemas. This quiet, lovely feast celebrates the day when Mary and Joseph brought the infant Jesus into the Temple, following the Jewish Law. There Jesus was greeted and recognised by two elderly people Anna and Simeon. There he was proclaimed a light to the world.

To celebrate that light, and to share it, candles are blessed on this day. We are invited to carry them – to take light to the world.

So much of our Christian faith, in the way in which we live it out at St C’s is sensual. The sensual enriches our worship, especially the Mass. The beauty of music enhances worship, the scent of incense lifts our hearts and so on.

We are living in days of greater social isolation – we are staying at home. One positive of these difficult days is that we are discovering how our senses, in our homes, can give substance and focus to our faith.

This Candlemas we are inviting people to light a candle at 9pm and place it in a window as a sign of light, a sign of hope. Those who wish can gather via Zoom in prayer and to have their candles blessed – this sharing of light is for all, irrespective of our faith, or level of faith.

A young church member making jam tarts at home for Candlemas

We like to celebrate with food so let’s together encourage a Candlemas custom of eating jam tarts on the day. (or in some countries the ‘pastel de natas’ is preferred).

In England Jam tarts are a very traditional and easy to make food. But why particularly at Candlemas – Sandra Palmer has considered this carefully and offers an explanation:

“An old man looks at a baby , and sees in him the fulfilment of prophecy and the hope of salvation. This was a baby in whom people would recognise the presence of God and come to see him as God .

But he was also man truly human , and therefore truly baby.

We are reminded that Jesus was truly a baby in that most tender of Carols , the Rocking Carol

Gentle Jesus do not stir
We will bring you a coat of fur.
We will rock you , rock you rock
We will rock you rock you rock you
See the fur to keep you warm
Snugly round your tiny form .

The jam tart at Candlemas recalls that Jesus was truly baby , he needed a place to sleep , he needed to be rocked . The circle shape that is made is that of the sort of basket weave cradle that is strung with rope , hooked to a stand and rocked from side to side.. the jam the blanket , and the sweetness of the parents ‘ love.”

Do celebrate the day with a jam tart, and why not make your own – click here for a simple recipe.


About stchrysostoms

St Chrysostom’s is an Anglican (Church of England) parish church in Manchester, UK. We’re an inclusive, diverse and welcoming faith community rejoicing in our Anglo Catholic tradition, where people of many differing backgrounds make friends. Find our Facebook group at
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