One aspect of French life that I particularly love is the rich tapestry of traditions to follow every month, accompanied by the constant delight of indulging in delicious food. And this month, it’s all about crêpes! (and a touch of superstition). Celebrated on February 2nd, La Chandeleur, also known as Candlemas or Crêpes Day, has its roots in both pagan and Christian celebrations. Ever wondered about the backstory of La Chandeleur? Keep reading!
Pagan traditions associated La Chandeleur with the midpoint of winter, honoring the god Pan and the resumption of agricultural activities. People would parade through the streets with lit torches, symbolizing the return of light and the hope for a bountiful spring.
Over time, La Chandeleur evolved into a Christian holiday when Pope Gelasius I incorporated the pagan celebration into the Catholic tradition. On February 2nd 472, he organized the first candlelight procession through Rome, signifying the Presentation of Jesus to the temple.
The modern La Chandeleur seamlessly blends elements from both pagan and Christian traditions, with crêpes becoming a central symbol. The circular shape and golden color of crêpes represent the sun, heralding the end of winter and the approach of spring.
La Chandeleur is renowned for its superstitious practices. One popular belief involves placing a coin on top of a cooking crêpe while flipping it, ensuring financial prosperity in the coming year. Others hold a coin in their right hand during the flipping process for good luck.
Another intriguing tradition involves saving the first crêpe cooked on La Chandeleur and storing it in a drawer for the entire year as a symbol of good fortune.
Have you tried any of these??
Similar to Groundhog Day in the United States, French superstitions link La Chandeleur to weather predictions. Rain on this day is believed to bring 40 more days of rain, while a sunny La Chandeleur signifies the imminent end of winter. So fingers crossed for a sunny day this February 2nd!
When I said that this day is the most superstitious in France, I wasn’t joking. Here are a few common sayings about these superstitions:
– “À la Chandeleur, l’hiver se passe ou prend vigueur” (On Candlemas, winter departs or gets stronger)
– “Chandeleur couverte, quarante jours de perte” (Covered (snowy) Candlemas, forty days of loss)
– “Rosée à la Chandeleur, hiver à sa dernière demeure” (Dew on Candlemas, winter at its final hour)
– “À la Chandeleur, le jour croît de deux heures” (On Candlemas, the day grows by two hours)
So after all this talk about Crepes, I’m sure your stomach must be grumbling! La Chandeleur is an invitation to indulge in the deliciousness of crêpes, both sweet and savory. So, gather your loved ones, whip up some crêpes, and embrace the spirit of La Chandeleur.
If you’re planning to be in Paris this February, then here are a couple of recommendations to add to your list!
And for the armchair travellers, here’s a couple of recipes to bring the holiday into your home.
La Chandeleur is a delightful fusion of tradition, superstition, and culinary delights. So, embrace the spirit of La Chandeleur, indulge in crêpes, and celebrate the end of winter and the promise of spring!