As is our tradition, the Tallow and Wax Chandlers celebrated Candlemas together last night at the Church of St Stephen Walbrook, followed by a very convivial supper at each Company’s Hall. The Revd Paul Kennedy conducted a beautiful service and the singers of St Martin’s Voices and organist Jonathan Dods made stunning use of St Stephen’s acoustics.
Candlemas is the Christian Holy Day commemorating the presentation of Jesus at the Temple, and by around the mid-5th century Candlemas had come to be celebrated by the blessing of candles for the upcoming year. Up to 1548, and England’s break away from the Catholic Church, it was customary for the blessed candles to be carried around the parish, symbolising Christ lighting the way for his followers.
It is likely that before the English Reformation (when ‘superstitious’ Catholic rites were banned, including the blessing of candles on Candlemas), both tallow and wax chandlers would have been busy in the lead up to Candlemas, ensuring there were enough candles available for those required both by the church and common people.
From 1994 to 2020, the Tallow Chandlers’ and Wax Chandlers’ Companies successfully joined to celebrate Candlemas with a Church Service and Supper, and despite a brief pause in 2021 where the celebration was held virtually, the Tallow and Wax Chandlers together will continue to enjoy this historic light focused festival for the years to come.