As the celebration of the Purification of the Virgin Mary, this day hardly needs the tracing of an origin, but the following from Brand is decidedly interesting:--
"How this candle-bearing on Candlemas Day came first up, the author of our English Festival declareth in this manner: "Somtyme," said he, "when the Romaines by great myght and royal power conquered all the world, they were so proude, that they forgat God, and made them divers gods after their own lust. And so among all they had a god that they called Mars, that had been tofore a notable knight in battayle; and so they prayed to hym for help, and for that they would speed the better of this knight, the people prayed and did great worship to his mother, that was called Februa, after which woman much people have opinion that the moneth February is called. Wherefore the second daie of thys moneth is Candlemass Day. The Romaines this night went about the city of Rome with torches and candles brenning in worship of this woman Februa, for hope to have the more helpe and succoure of her sonne Mars.
"Then there was a Pope that was called Sergius, and when he saw Christian people drawn to this false maumetry and untrue belief, he thought to undo this foule use and custom, and turn it into God's worship and our Lady's, and gave commandment that all Christian people should come to church and offer up a candle brennyng, in the worship that they did to this woman Februa, and do worship to our Lady and to her sonne our Lord Jesus Christ. So that now this feast is solemnly hallowed thorowe all Christendome. And every Christian man and woman of covenable age is bound to come to church and offer up their candles, as though they were bodily with our Lady, hopying for this reverence and worship, that they do to our Lady, to have a great rewarde in heaven."
In some parts of the country, Scotland particularly, Candlemas has assumed a secular garb by becoming the first of the quarterly terms; and in Cornwall old customs of a slightly different character are kept up. I select from a London morning paper (1910) a few paragraphs relating to an ancient custom.
COLLECTING A RENT OF BREAD, BEER, BRAWN,
AND CHEESE AT GODOLPHIN.
This being Candlemas Day, the old Cornish manor house of Godolphin, now a farm-house, was visited, telegraphs our Penzance correspondent, by the reeve of the manor of Lamburne, who came to collect, with time-honoured ceremony, a rent-charge upon the estate.
In the presence of a crowd of curious neighbours and sight-seers, the reeve knocked thrice upon the oaken door.
"I come," he cried, "to demand my lord's just dues--eight groats and a penny, a loaf, a cheese, a collar of brawn, and a jack of the best beer in the house. God save the King and the lord of the manor."
When the doors were opened, the reeve and some forty guests sat down to breakfast together.