The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord (or Candlemas) occurs on February 2 or the fortieth day after Christmas. After giving birth, a woman was regarded as unclean for forty days after the birth of a son (Lev 12:1-4) and for eighty days after the birth of a daughter (Lev 12:5). To become ritually pure, the new mother had to bring the priest a yearling lamb and a young pigeon (or turtledove) as a sin offering or two turtledoves if she was poor (Lev 12:8). Thus, Mary and Joseph took the Infant Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem forty days (inclusive) after His birth to complete Mary’s ritual purification after childbirth, and to perform the redemption of the firstborn son, in obedience to the Book of Leviticus (cf. Ex 13:12–15ff).
Luke explicitly says that Joseph and Mary took the option provided for the poor since they could not afford a lamb. The offerings were made in order for the firstborn Son to be redeemed by the parents’ sacrifice and the burnt offering from His birth-state of sanctity, i.e. and predestined by His firstborn status to serve as a priest. The Presentation of Jesus at the temple is celebrated as one of the twelve Great Feasts in among Byzantine Catholics and in Orthodoxy, and is sometimes called Hupapántē (Gk.Ὑπαπαντή or meeting). The meeting between the infant Christ and Simeon and Anna, in iconography, is depicted as a theophany or a recognition of Christ’s divinity.
Nunc dimittis – the Canticle of Simeon
The canticle is used at compline or Night Prayer and is called the Nunc Dimittis for its first words in the Latin Vulgate (Lk 2:29):
Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine, secundum verbum tuum, in pace
Lord, now you let your servant go in peace; your word has been fulfilled: my own eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of every people: a light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people Israel. Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.
Protect us, Lord, as we stay awake; watch over us as we sleep, that awake, we may keep watch with Christ, and asleep, rest in His peace. Alleluia!