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To explore the meaning of Candlemas and the need to look beyond outward appearances to see hidden aspects of Jesus.

by The Revd John Challis

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To explore the meaning of Candlemas and the need to look beyond outward appearances to see hidden aspects of Jesus.

Preparation and materials

  • A sweet biscuit and at least four pieces of fruit: banana, apple, pear, date. You will also need a whole lemon.

  • You will need a crisp five pound note. Carefully prise off the tip or tiny part of the stalk that is left at the top of the lemon. Roll the £5 very tightly and slide it into the lemon. It should easily fill the length of the lemon. Replace the tip, if you can, with glue. (This is an old magic trick.)
  • A small chopping board and a knife to cut the lemon.
  • The story of Jesus being taken to the Temple is in Luke 2.22–38.
  • At Candlemas, Christians remember the baby Jesus being taken to the Temple to be dedicated to God. Simeon and Anna see a baby, but they also see so much more: they recognize the Messiah. This is both good news and sad news because Jesus will die for all. Candlemas often has the theme of sweet and sour.
  • The festival gets its name ‘Candlemas’ because during the Communion service on this festival, the candles to be used in the church services are blessed.


  1. Explain that Candlemas is when Christians remember the baby Jesus being taken to the Temple in Jerusalem to be dedicated to God. This is a great moment.

    In the Temple Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus are met by Simeon and then by Anna. They are prophets waiting for God to send his Messiah, his special messenger. They see the baby Jesus but they also see so much more.

  2. Ask: Who likes fruit and healthy eating? Show the fruit that you have brought, including the lemon, and ask: Who would like to eat some here and now?

    Ask your volunteers to come to the front and let them choose their fruit. Tell each child, except for the child with the lemon, to take a bite. Keep the child with the lemon waiting.

    Compare the tastes. Ask the children to describe, perhaps with your help, the sweet tastes of their fruit. Emphasize the contrast with a lemon. Build up the tension. Then say to the child with the lemon, ‘Would you prefer to have a biscuit/a piece of one of the other fruits?’ Play on this and enjoy trying to convince the child that it would be better to have the biscuit or other fruit rather than the lemon. (Allow the child to take a biscuit or other fruit if he or she wishes.)

    Send the other children away with their fruit, thanking them. Bring out the chopping board and build up to cutting the lemon so the child can eat it. (Or, if your volunteer took the other fruit or the biscuit, say that you want to taste the lemon.)

    Cut the lemon around the fattest part, being careful not to go in too deep. The lemon should halve easily (twist it, if it doesn’t), leaving the rolled up £5 in the middle.

    If the child has persisted in wanting to eat the lemon, ask him or her to take the £5 out. If it is yours to eat, then show the lemon to all the children with a look of shock and amazement.

    Say that even in the most sour of things, such as a lemon, there can be the sweetest of surprises - £5. The children will be surprised and wonder how it came to be there.

    (You could pocket the £5 or say you will give it to one of the charities supported by the school.)
  3. Say that Candlemas is seen as being sweet and sour:

    –  sweet that Jesus was born to show us what God is like
    –  but sour in that he died on the cross
    –  but sweet again because he rose to new life with God.

Time for reflection

It is all too easy to look only at the visible, and make judgements based on the outside appearance of something or someone. But then if we do that, we may miss the treasures within. Even when things don’t look good on the outside, there can be a great reward inside.

Dear Lord,
give us the eyes of faith
to see you in the world.
Where fear closes our eyes, help us.
Where tears blind us, heal us.
Set us free to see your love at work in the world.


’Colours of day’ (Come and Praise, 55)

Publication date: February 2013   (Vol.15 No.2)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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