Coming up next weekend, we have two feast days that I love for the sheer weird-old-Catholic-ness of them: Candlemas and St. Blaise.
Candlemas, which occurs 40 days after Christmas on February 2nd, celebrates the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple. This was the day that, in keeping with Jewish law, Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus to the temple for the first time. When Holy Simeon saw the baby, he had a lot to say, but we’ll focus on the end part: “For my eyes have seen your salvation which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a LIGHT for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”
From these words comes the traditional Catholic practice for the day, which is the blessing of candles. Families would bring a supply of candles for the year to Mass, and the priest would bless all of them. Some churches do this still. And even if they don’t, there’s no reason why you can’t bring your candles and ask Father to bless them for you after Mass.
Candles with at least 51% beeswax are required for liturgical use in churches. This rule doesn’t officially apply for home use, but beeswax candles do smell good, and smoke less, and it’s nice to use the real thing if possible. They’re available here in bulk from Church Supply Warehouse (and there’s even a discount with the code CANDLEMAS5 ). Amazon carries beeswax shabbat candles that would work. But even drugstore candles are fine for home use.
If you’re not able to get your candles to Mass with you, the head of the household can bless them at home with holy water. The prayers for blessing candles can be found online here (#25). They are also available as a printable pdf booklet here, along with prayers for St. Blaise. Both are also part of the Catholic All February booklet of prayers, Bible readings, devotions, crafts, and songs for the whole month. New and improved, now featuring the NABRE translation of the Bible. That’s available here as a printable pdf. And here as a paperback from Amazon. Your booklet purchases fund the production of the Catholic All Year Liturgical Living Video Series, so thanks!
Speaking of . . . there’s a new installment! See our family traditions for the day in action, including using candlelight all day instead of electric lights, the blessing of candles at home, and Bobby, our official family pancake maker, making some crepes. Thanks to Elissa Mirzaei, for creating the video!
Here’s Bobby’s 3 Ingredient Crepe Recipe (which was his great grandfather’s!)
- Crack 7 eggs into a blender
- Fill blender with whole milk to 5 cup line
- Add 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour to the blender, adding 1/2 cup of it at a time, blending in between additions
- Blend until thoroughly mixed and bubbly
- Ladle about 1/2 cup of batter onto a hot, buttered or sprayed, griddle
- Wait for crepe to look bubbled, then loosen all the way around with a metal spatula, and flip
- Cook on second side until lightly browned, then remove onto plate
- To serve, fill with whipped cream, nutella, jam, and/or fresh fruit
- For savory crepes, use whole wheat flour, and serve filled with meat and cheese
- Makes about twelve 12-inch crepes
There is a LOT more to Candlemas, including some very cool stuff on the Purification of Mary, and the churching of women after childbirth, and the associated gander month, and the final infancy epiphany, and how Groundhog Day is actually based on a Catholic Candlemas tradition, which is all in my book, but I won’t put it all here because people don’t like long blog posts anymore. 🤔🤷♀️😁
The day after Candlemas is the Feast of St. Blaise.
Because he miraculously cured a boy who was choking on a fish bone, the intercession of St. Blaise is now invoked against choking, as well as any other ailments of the throat.
The Catholic traditional practice for the day is the blessing of the throats. I find it interesting that this custom has persisted, and is practiced at every parish our family has attended, when so many other Catholic customs have fallen by the wayside over the years. Not that I’m complaining about the blessing of the throats, it’s great! But is choking really such a concern of parishioners? I guess so.
After Mass, everyone lines up again and the priest–ideally–but the Book of Blessings does allow for the use of lay ministers, using two of the newly blessed candles from Candlemas, tied together in the middle to form a cross, blesses the faithful one by one, saying: “Through the intercession of Saint Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from every disease of the throat and from every other illness: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
If you are not able to attend Mass, the blessing may be done at home by the head of the household. The home version of the blessing can be found here (1651-1655). Or in the booklet here.
And that night for dinner, just to show how efficacious I think the blessing is, I like to serve a whole fish! It’s another one of those liturgical living + life skills things. In the United States it seems like eating fish with the bones still in it is becoming very rare. But it’s a skill that needs to be learned and practiced, if one ever wants to be able to eat fish that hasn’t already been filleted or sticked. The feast of St. Blaise is a good way to make sure we do it at least once a year.
This is our favorite whole fish recipe: Fried Whole Tilapia with Basil and Chilies
So, there’s next weekend for you, crazy Catholics! Enjoy! If you’ve used and enjoyed the Catholic All January booklet, or the Catholic All Year Compendium, and have a moment to leave a review on Amazon, I’d appreciate it.
And, what do you guys think of the Liturgical Living Videos? Are they helpful in a different way than books and blog posts? Or should I be spending more energy on writing? Only so many hours in the day!
I still like blog posts! Sorry most don’t. Thank you for sharing all of this. I hope you are having great success with your book. I do check in with you on facebook, but I much prefer the blog atmosphere.
Thanks! Me too! And I don’t buy that blogs are dead or anything. If you write stuff worth reading, people will. But I do think people have a shorter attention span in general when they are reading on their phones, so I’m trying to reign in my natural verbosity a bit.
I like your posts, long, medium, or short. Especially long. Thank you for posting.
Love this! We are having a baby boy in February and naming him Nathaniel Blaise. I also considered how odd it is that this blessing of the throats tradition has persisted for so long. Baby’s dad is an ENT and his mom’s a knitter and Blaise’s patronage kinda fit the bill nicely where a family name couldn’t be agreed upon. Thank you for these feast day celebration tips!
I love that! And it has a great flow, too.
I honestly love the videos AND blog posts AND the booklets sooo more time in the day is needed 🙂 I do really like the diversity of everything you post in a variety of formats but I know it’l probably be impossible to keep up like this every month. I love all of it so keep it coming please!
Aww, thanks! I do enjoy doing all of it.
I love the blog posts, the videos bring them to life, and the booklets are great help especially for my classroom! God bless you and your family and keep them coming!!! Thanks
I love the blog posts-gives me something to look forward to reading (rather than just scrolling through)
I prefer blogs over videos, but the videos are enjoyable and very well done!
I like blogs/booklets best because I can print them/have them physically. I don’t find the videos to be necessary or particularly helpful, to me at least.
Thank You for always having an informative blog. God Bless you and yours.
Marion and Marilyn
I also prefer the blog format. As someone who is not on Facebook or other social media yet enjoys reading on my phone I don’t have a problem with long posts – I just leave the tab up until I can get to the end! I told my husband yesterday that I think Instagram killed blogging.
Kendra, I love your blog! I seriously went back and read so many old posts in December while I was recovering from surgery. So more writing is my vote!
But the videos are definitely fun.
It’s not choking that modern Catholics are worried about, but colds, flus, RSV, pertussis and all the other respiratory ailments that make the rounds this time of year–at least in wintry parts of the country. Do you get all those in California?
I’m also a fan of the blog–yours was the first (and still the only) blog that I read regularly. But the videos are great for when my kids are jonesing for a “movie” and I don’t want to commit to anything longer than a few minutes!
We do! I guess it’s good timing for winter ailments.
How similar are the ideas in the the compendium book to the monthly books? I have to harness my spending and trying to decide which to buy. Thanks!
The monthly prayer booklets are a companion to the Compendium. Unless you’re already very familiar with the liturgical calendar, I’d recommend starting with the Compendium. The Compendium features over 100 feast days covering the whole year, and all the liturgical seasons, plus why and how to get started with liturgical living in the home. It has ideas for foods, prayers, Bible readings, and activities, but in most cases there wasn’t room to include the actual texts of those prayers etc. in the book. All the prayers I recommend, and everything else, are available to look up online. However, I decided to start putting together these booklets because I found I was spending a lot of time googling around on my phone while everyone’s dinner was getting cold, trying to find the prayer or reading or hymn I wanted, in the right version. Each month’s booklet is designed and illustrated, and contains all the prayers, hymns, devotions, blessings, and Bible readings we use use for the month. They also include some craft instructions, such as how to create a St. Brigid cross out of reeds or pipe cleaners for the feast of St. Brigid on February 1. (Recipes are not included.) February’s pdf booklet is 48 pages long (but prints on 12 pieces of paper, as a booklet) and is also available as a paperback on Amazon, if you don’t want to print at home.
I enjoy reading your blog alot. I love the reminders about ways to celebrate the liturgical year. My St. Blaise story is that we named our sixth child Blaise, finding out after we named him that he had a cleft palate in his soft palate, severe aspiration while he was swallowing and excess tissue in his throat which cause him alot of breathing difficulties- in my mind all issues around/near his throat. So St. Blaise definitely had his hand in our name choice and I love the blessing the throat devotion even more now.
I love those stories of the saints finding us!
Even though I love instagram I still do love blogs especially yours. So please keep the posts coming! 🙂
I love the blog posts! I don’t have time to watch the videos, but I can skim/scan read really fast. Is that ironic? I say I don’t have time to watch the videos, because my kids are little and we do mostly screen free for them, so it wouldn’t be right for me to watch videos around them, but then tell them they can’t… So I just don’t watch as many videos. Everyone posts videos now! Please keep blogging! I found your blog shortly after we got married (almost 6 years ago) and I have been a big fan ever since!