The corn in tamales, a symbol of the Day of Candelaria.
Throughout Mexico, including Puerto Vallarta, the celebration on February 2nd is known as the Day of Candelaria. Specifically celebrated in the Catholic Church, it commemorates the Purification of Mary and the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, summarized as the Feast of Candelaria. This ancient practice is rooted in the Book of Leviticus in the Bible, which states, "No one can touch human blood because in it is life." Thus, those who shed blood, had diseases with blood stains like leprosy, or touched another person's blood were considered to commit a serious sin or were impure. According to these beliefs, women were considered impure after childbirth due to the blood they shed during labor. To purify themselves, Leviticus Chapter 12 prescribed that a woman should wait 40 days after giving birth to a boy and 80 days for a girl. After the specified time, parents were to present themselves at the temple to offer their gifts and introduce the baby to the temple community. Even though Mary did not shed a drop of blood, she still presented herself in the temple to set an example. "Every firstborn male shall be consecrated to the Lord." This celebration, brought from Europe and imposed on the Mexican people through the Spanish Conquest, spread throughout the country. However, a clear syncretism occurred, as European dates coincided relatively with the festivals dedicated to Tláloc, the God of rain.
In ancient Mexico, corn tamales were already known, and it was customary to eat them during the festivals of Chalchihuitlicue and Tláloc. With the arrival of the Spanish, these celebrations merged, which is why tamales and atole are consumed on the Day of Candelaria. For the people of Vallarta, it is a reason to celebrate with family, coworkers, or friends. Those who find the figurine of the child in the "rosca de reyes" (Three Kings' Cake) are responsible for organizing the Candelaria celebration.
The Day of Candelaria represents a significant economic boost for many merchants, including the sale of clothes for dressing the Baby Jesus and the high demand for tamales, which increases by up to 200%, resulting in a highly favorable economic impact for the community.