February 6th marks the religious holiday of Candlemas Day or Día de la Candelaria in Mexico. On this day, also referred to as the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin and Presentation of the Lord, is celebrated as the day Mary took baby Jesus to the Temple of Bethlehem for the first time. Candlemas is celebrated in many countries around the world, but there are certain traditions that you can only experience in Mexico.
Candlemas festivities actually begin a month earlier on January 6th, Día de Los Reyes (Three Kings Day), when families gather to eat Rosca de Reyes, a cake with the figurine of a baby baked into it. Whoever gets the baby is tasked with planning the Candlemas gathering a month later.
Because Día de la Candelaria is not widely celebrated across all regions of Mexico, you will find most people celebrating at home with family and friends, communing around a large dinner of tamales (provided by whoever received the baby figurine in January) and a porridge-like drink called ‘atole.’ For a special treat, a chocolate version called champurrado is prepared.
Both atole and tamales are made with corn masa, harkening back to the ancient Aztecs who worshipped and asked the gods for a bountiful harvest on February 2nd.
To round out the day, those who kept a home nativity during Christmas will dress up their Christ Child and present him at the local church, as it is believed Mary did with Jesus.