Candlemas Day—February 2nd—falls 40 days after Christmas. There are many traditions associated with this day in the Church, and indeed there are secular traditions that fall of this day as well (such as Groundhog Day).
Candlemas is called that because this is the day in the Western Church when priests would bless the beeswax candles that were to be used throughout the coming year, some of which would be taken homes of the faithful to be used there.
Increasingly since the Second Vatican Council, the Roman Catholic Church has begun to refer to this day as the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, and references to candles and purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary are downplayed in favour of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple and the Prophecy of Simeon.
There are many poems and traditions surrounding the day as well. For example, the poet Robert Herrick (1591-1674) wrote:
“Down the the rosemary, and so
Down the the bays and mistletoe;
Down with the holly, ivy, all,
Wherewith ye dress’d the Christmas Hall.”
This was traditionally the day that the last remaining Christmas decorations were taken down, for if anything remained after today, it was said that it would bring death at that place before the year is out.