The season of Christmas, which includes the celebration of the visit of the wise men to the child at Epiphany, lasts for forty days and ends with the Feast of Candlemas on 2nd February when a special evensong is held. This service starts by candlelight in the nave, which is cleared of its chairs, and the congregation then follows the procession into the Quire.
At Candlemas, the church remembers the infant Christ being presented in the Temple in Jerusalem to the old man Simeon who rejoices that, before he dies, he has seen this child, who will be ‘a light to the nations’. But this feast of Candlemas, celebrated by the lighting and extinguishing of candles (hence its name), is a bittersweet feast, for the old man also warns the child’s mother of the pain and suffering she is to face because of her Son. So Candlemas looks backwards to the birth of the child and the joy of Christmas, but also forwards to the suffering and death on the cross.