Pancake Day | La Chandeleur in France

Written by on January 29, 2014 in French Cuisine, French Style

la chandeleur in france

Every year on 2nd February it is pancake day… or rather La Chandeleur in France, the day of the crèpe (French for pancake).

The ‘Fête de la Chandeleur’, is also known as Fête de la Lumière (nothing to do with the famous Fête de la Lumière in Lyon) and the jour des crèpes. The celebration dates back to Roman times when it was held to commemorate the purification of the Virgin Mary and the presentation of the baby Jesus.

The name Chandeleur, comes from the Latin candelorum festum, which means festival of candles and in English language is known as Candlemas.  There is evidence that Pope Gelasius I (died 496) helped to establish the festival of Candlemas and was said to feed crêpes to the pilgrims who visited his church.

La Chandeleur falls 40 days after Christmas on the 2nd February, and apart from eating lots of pancakes stuffed with all manner of scrumptious fillings, it’s a day for fortune telling and legend! The golden colour of the delicious round crêpe is a reminder of the sun and the approaching spring.

How to make a perfect crepe/pancake

Traditions of la Chandeleur/Candlemas

There are lots of fun legends and old wives tales about La Chandeleur and Candlemas:

If you light a candle in church on the day of Candlemas and you manage to carry it home without the flame going out, you will survive the year!

Eating lots of pancakes on the day of the fête de la chandeleur will ensure a good crop!

If you can flip a pancake with one hand, whilst in the other holding a gold coin – your immediate family will prosper financially all through the year! Or flip and hold a coin and make a wish – catch it and your wish will come true!

If you toss your crèpe on the armoire and it sticks – that is a sign of good luck and prosperity for the year (or a sign you need to get a cloth out and clean up!)

If it is raining on the day of Candlemas – it will rain for the next 40 days. If it is overcast and cold – winter will last for another 40 days. If it is a clear day – winter is over.  Although having said that, there is also a saying that if it is sunny on Candlemas then winter will return and bring misfortune with it!

Happy Crèpe Day!

If you want to make that rather delectable looking pancake cake in our picture – click here for the recipe for chocolate hazelnut crèpe cake!  For a more down to earth, traditional crepe recipe click here!

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