This week, February 2nd, is crepe day in France, la chandeleur in French, and Candlemas in English, when people feast on crêpes though no one is quite certain why.
In any case, the ancient tradition, also known as the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus Christ, the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or the Feast of the Holy Encounter, is a one of the oldest of the Christian church.
This religious holiday, which falls 40 days after Christmas, also has origins in an older pre-Christian holiday that celebrates both the middle of winter and the harvest.
La chandeleur, a mélange of both these traditions, eventually became just a day to enjoy crepes.
So why do the French eat crepes on this day?
It’s believed that the round shape and golden colour of the crepe symbolises the sun and the cycle of light. From February, the days gradually get longer and lighter, while the feast also commemorates the historical tradition of popes distributing food to the poor annually on February 2nd.
As with many celebrations in France, la fête de la chandeleur is shrouded in superstition. The peasants feared that if they didn’t make crêpes on this day, their following year’s crops would be poor. But to be sure of a good harvest, they had to flip the first crepe in the air with their right hand whilst holding a gold coin in their left hand. And, naturally, the flipped crepe had to land perfectly back into the pan … something I’ve never quite mastered!
Anyway, whatever your beliefs, this Friday I’ll be making a batch of those yummy thin, French-style crepes, to be devoured cold or hot, and sweet or savoury. They also freeze well, for a later, impromptu snack.
To celebrate la chandeleur (apart from feasting on fluffy crepes!), I’m running a short 99c/p promotion of the first novel in my French historical Sainte-Marie-du-Lac series, Lake of Echoes.
Get your copy HERE
A vanished daughter. A failing marriage. A mother’s life in ruins.