The Presentation of Our Lord is a major feast of Our Lord which is celebrated on February 2nd. The feast commemorates the presentation of Jesus Christ at the Temple in Jerusalem to be redeemed — according to Jewish Law, each firstborn son had to be redeemed by his parents by making a sacrifice at the Temple. (See Exodus 13:11-16.) The Gospel of Luke tells the story of how Jesus was redeemed by his parents (Luke 2:22-24):
When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
The story of the Presentation of Our Lord demonstrates the piety of the Holy Family, as well as their poverty: they choose to make the sacrifice of birds, rather than of a lamb, which is permitted for those who cannot afford the more expensive animal (Leviticus 12:8).
In Christian churches, the celebration of this festival is also known as Candlemas. This name comes from the tradition, especially popular in Northern Europe, of blessing candles on this day and carrying them in procession around the church. The symbol of the candle is used in recognition of another event that Luke references, right after the presentation — the song of Simeon. Simeon’s song, which he sings upon recognizing Jesus as the Light of the World, is well-known as part of Compline, the closing prayer of the Christian day:
Lord, you now have set your servant free
to go in peace as you have promised;
For these eyes of mine have seen the Savior,
whom you have prepared for all the world to see:
A Light to enlighten the nations,
and the glory of your people Israel.