After Candles, Blase

A Catholic tradition most Protestants have probably never heard of is connected with the feast of St. Blase (Feb. 3). After the candles are blessed on Candlemas, they are used the next day to bless throats. Two candles are crossed, and tied with red ribbons, and then thrust against the throat of the person whose throat is being blessed.

I was a Catholic for three years before I encountered this one. I was Director of Christian Initiation and Formation at a parish in upstate New York (responsible for all sacramental preparation in the parish as well as the religious education programs for public school kids). The parish school made a big deal out of St. Blase. Mass was held in the school gym, after which they did the blessing of the throats. My son was in kindergarten at the time (one of the perqs I was given was free tuition), and the kindergarten class was ushered into place in the front row. The teacher hadn’t told the kids what to expect or why it was being done. When the time came, she just directed them to form a line and go up. My son was the first in line, and he didn’t know what to think when this big guy covered in robes shoved this big “X” thing against his throat. He naturally backed up, frightened, and tried to get out of it. The teacher tried to force him up–he wouldn’t go. They tried to make it out as a behavior problem on his part, when it was a problem of their failure to teach and to understand.

Needless to say, I never had any regard for this silly superstition after that–and I told him then that he had done the right thing.

One thought on “After Candles, Blase

  1. What a shame to not pre-teach this event for the children. Kindergarten age is too young to go through something like that without talking about it first. Good to you for sticking your ground and not letting the teachers and administration make a big deal out of your son’s reaction.


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