40 Day Churching
When the mother and child return from the hospital, it is traditional for them to observe a period of 40 days during which they rest and recuperate from the delivery and refrain from traveling outside the home. The first place that the child is brought, then, is the Church, and what a beautiful sign of our dedication and hopes for the child than to offer him/her to the Lord! The roots of this tradition are found in the Old Testament (Leviticus 12), but the reason that they are still practiced is founded in the example set by Christ through His own presentation in the Temple (Luke 2:22-40).
In the Orthodox Church, both baby boys and baby girls are taken to the Church on the fortieth day after their birth. This is done in rememberance of the Theotokos and Joseph taking the infant Jesus to the Temple. Let us take a closer look.
It is important to remember that both Mary and Joseph were both of Jewish desent and observed their religious customs. One of these customs was for Jews to take their first-born son to the Temple forty days after his birth and dedicate the child's life to God. If the parents were wealthy they were to bring a lamb and a young pigeon or a turtle dove to be offered as a sacrifice at the Temple. The custom provided that if the couple was poor, they were to offer two pigeons or two turtle doves for the sacrifice.
When Jesus was forty days old, Mary and Joseph took him to the Temple in Jerusalem. They were not wealthy so they took two turtle doves with them to offer as a sacrifice. When they arrived they were met by a very old, holy, and intelligent scholar named Simeon. Simeon had spent much time studying the Prophets and had learned of the coming of the Messiah, who was to come and deliver Israel from its conquerors. He spent many years praying for the Messiah to come and at one point during his prayers he heard the voice of God promising that Simeon would not die until he had seen the Messiah.
When Simeon saw Jesus, he took the baby in his arms and blessed the Lord and said these words:
"Lord, now let you servant depart in peace according to your word, because my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and glory to your people Israel." Luke 2:29-32http://www.saintbarbara.org/faith/sacraments/baptism/baptism.cfm