What is La Chandeleur?
On February 2nd, just 40 days after Christmas, it is a tradition in France that families and friends gather to eat crêpes (pancakes). La Chandeleur (Candlemas) is a local holiday that causes many of the streets of France to be impregnated with an irresistible crêpe aroma.
But the origin of this party, and of the French crêpes themselves as we know them today, is quite different.
Origin of La Chandeleur
There are different theories that explain the origin of La Chandeleur. One of the most widespread refers to the pagan tradition. According to it, it was customary to walk through the streets with torches to celebrate the arrival of a time of great fertility for the lands.
Later, in the fifth century, Pope Gelasius I turned this pagan tradition into a Catholic to celebrate the day Jesus was presented in the temple. It was then that the torches were exchanged for candles and they walked through the streets to the church.
Apparently, Gelasius I established the tradition of distributing galettes or salty crêpes to all the pilgrims who arrived in Rome on February 2.
A second theory relates the origin of La Chandeleur with prosperity. At the beginning of the year, buckwheat that was left over from the past crop was used to make crêpes; a symbol that gave way to a new season full of fortune.
And … why do they have a circular shape? Precisely as a tribute to that expected prosperity symbolized by the sun. A celebration of the longest days to come.
How is La Chandeleur celebrated?
The tradition of preparing and eating crêpes with family, friends and even in schools has been established in French homes.
Of course, as in many other traditions, this day of Candlemas, “La Chandeleur” or festival of candles, “Fête des Chandelles”, is still linked to certain superstitions. For example, it is said that the first crêpe should be turned with the right hand, while the left hand holds a coin (if possible in gold). If the crêpe arrives in good shape to the pan (that is, without breaking or falling out), it means that this will be a year full of prosperity for the whole family.
The success of a good crêpe
What makes the crêpes able to make everyone fall in love with them? Perhaps its attractive simplicity; to make them you only need flour, eggs, milk, sugar and the ability to turn them around and to achieve the perfect balance between flavor, texture and thickness.
Or possibly the large number of combinations that they admit: from salty crêpes (mushrooms and cooked ham, eggs and bacon, tomatoes, cheese and fresh basil, smoked salmon with cream cheese, roasted chicken with tomato and emmental, sirloin with caramelized onions…) until sweet crêpes, the most traditional and consumed in France (stuffed with jam, chocolate cream and strawberries, nuts, honey, applesauce, ice cream, caramel and of course the famous crêpe Suzette!).
Celebrate La Chandeleur as a true French and enjoy!