Entrance of the Theotokos in the Temple
You remember that Joachim and Anna waited a long time to have a baby. They prayed for many years that God would grant them the gift of a child. When Mary was born, they were quite old. How glad they were that God had finally answered their prayers!
Joachim and Anna knew that Mary was meant to serve God in a special way. How did they know this? An angel visited them and told them that God had planned long ago what this little girl would do when she grew up.
Anna and Joachim knew that Mary would have to be carefully prepared for such special service to God. So they promised Him that they would bring Mary to the Temple to live. There, every day, she could be with holy people who loved her. They would show her how to serve God, and how to pray. She would be prepared to be the Theotokos, the Mother of God. And later she would give birth to Jesus Christ our Lord.
Her parents thought and thought about the best way to take Mary to the Temple. Joachim wanted to take her when she was two years old, but Anna felt that they should wait a bit longer so she would not miss them so much. So when Mary was three, her parents walked with her to the Temple. Many relatives and friends came along, too. They carried lighted candles and sang as they walked along, so that Mary would not feel afraid or worried.
Even though she was so very young, Mary walked up the Temple steps by herself. At the top the priest Zechariah met her, wearing his colorful robes. She walked to him, and she wasn’t afraid. She didn’t cry for her parents to take her home.
Then something happened that surprised everyone. One part of the Temple is called the "Holy of Holies." People were very respectful of this place. In fact, nobody ever entered it except the High Priest, and he only did it once a year. So Zechariah shocked everybody by taking Mary, this little girl, right into the Holy of Holies!
People whispered to each other. They said, "How can she be going into that special place? What is a little girl doing there?" But Zechariah understood that Mary had an important part in God's plan. He knew that God wanted her to be prepared in the Temple. He knew that one day she would give birth to Jesus Christ.
Mary stayed in the Temple for twelve years. The holy people there taught her how to pray and how to live a life that would please God. Then, as she grew into a young woman, she was engaged to Joseph. Later, Joseph would take care of her and of the divine Son, Jesus Christ.
(All feast day information taken from oca.org.)