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Every year on the 2nd of February, la chandeleur (Candlemas, festa candelabrum in Latin), is celebrated in France. Originally Candlemas was Christian feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary (40 days after Christmas) and feast of the Presentation of our Lord Jesus. Over the years it became a pagan tradition with its myths. Candles were lit up in the middle of winter in order to celebrate light when days were slowly becoming longer. What can be better than a round, warm and golden crêpe (pancake) looking like a sun to honour light?
Tradition: Making crêpes is actually good fun: according to some old wife tails, one should just keep a coin, preferably a golden one, in his left hand, while the right hand is holding the pan (and yes there is a specific pan, crêpière), and tries to flip it in the air. If one succeeds in doing it nicely, without the crêpe landing on the floor or anywhere else in the kitchen, and if it comes nice and straight, back to the pan, he will be rich and prosperous the whole year.
Well, another tradition says that the first crêpe should end up on the top of a cupboard and stay there. It would then attract luck as long as it is there.
Vocabulary: chandelles et bougies
French uses two different words to name candles: chandelles and bougies. Chandelle has the same Latin origin as the English candles, candela. In the same word family, French, as well as English, also has candélabre et chandelier (both for candle holder). But, more common is bougie which finds its orgin in an arabic word bugaya, from Bgayet, name of an Algerian city (nowadays Béjaia) which was an important provider of candles from the XIVth century.
Sayings: There are quite a few sayings around Candlemas. They usually concern either weather or food and wealth.
À la Chandeleur, l’hiver cesse ou reprend vigueur.
On Candlemas, winter ends or strengthens.
Quand pour la Chandeleur le soleil est brillant, il fait plus froid après qu’avant.
Equivalent to: If Candlemas Day be fair and bright, winter will have another fight.
À la Chandeleur, il faut manger la soupe dorée pour avoir de l’argent toute l’année.
On Candlemas, one must eat the golden soup in order to have money all year round.
Recipe: Les crêpes – Or click here for a children’s version (activities included)
Beurre pour la crêpière / poêle
Laisser reposer la pâte 30 min minimum au frais.
Faire chauffer la poêle, la graisser avec un peu de beurre ou un sopalin imbibé de beurre et y verser une louche de pâte. Laisser cuire en retournant la crêpe une fois ou deux, jusqu’à ce qu’elle soit dorée.
Dégustez avec du sucre ou de la confiture.
Let this batter rest in the fridge for at least 30 minuts.
Preheat a flat pan (or a specific one, crêpière) and greass it with a bit of butter or a buttered kitchen towel. Pour a ladle full of batter and let it cook until golden. Flip it over once or twice.
Enjoy with sugar or jam.