Do you love crêpes? Then Fête de la Chandeleur, also known as Fête de la Lumière or Jour des Crêpes is for you. February 2nd is a special day in France and the ancient tradition is to eat crêpes. Yum!
Originally a religious festival, it dates back to Roman times. This special day commemorates the purification of the Virgin Mary and the presentation of baby Jesus at the temple. It falls 40 days after Christmas and marks the end of the festive season.
The name, fête des chandelles refers to the blessing of candles which traditionally took place on this day. From Pagan origins, there are many superstitions that are still practiced today.
One tradition was to light a candle in the church and carry it home without the flame going out. Sounds like a fun game, but the stakes were high. Success meant you would not die in the year ahead.
To ensure the crop would be plentiful for the coming year, it was believed that eating pancakes on this day was absolutely essential. This one sounds more like a tradition I would enjoy. Count me in.
The elected “tosser” would try to flip a crêpe with one hand while holding a gold coin in the other. If successful, the family was assured of prosperity for the next year.
Before the luxury of fridges and freezers, eating pancakes was also a way of using up eggs and butter before Lent.
But really, who needs suspicions or ancient traditions as an excuse to enjoy a delicious crêpe? Bon appétit.
Many sayings featuring la Chandleur became popular in France:
Quand il pleut pour la Chandeleur, il pleut pendant quarante jours.
If it rains at Candlemas, it will continue to rain for 40 days.
Quand la Chandeleur est claire, l’hiver est par derriere; Chandeleur couverte, quarante jours de perte!
If February is clear, winter is behind us. If the Chandeleur is overcast, winter will last another forty days.
How to Celebrate
Get into the spirit of the event. Try some of these fun things to celebrate Fête de la Chandeleur with your friends and family.
- Have a crêpe party and try your hand at flipping crêpes! Faire sauter des crêpes is something of an art form in France. Remember for good luck, hold a gold coin in one hand while you flip the crêpe with the other.
- Enjoy your freshly cooked crêpes with lemon juice and sugar. You may prefer to eat them with jam, chocolate or Nutella.
- The traditional drink to accompany crêpes is hard apple cider (which can be replaced by sparkling apple cider sans alcohol!)
- Create the right ambiance for this fête de la lumière by lighting candles around your home.