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La Chandeleur: Celebrating with Crêpes

La Chandeleur is a delightful French holiday celebrated annually on February 2nd. Rooted in both religious and pagan traditions, La Chandeleur marks the midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. While it holds significance in Christian calendars, its observance in France is marked by a charming culinary custom: the making and consuming of crêpes.

 

Beautiful French crêpes ready to be eaten by children.

Origins and significance

The origins of La Chandeleur date back to ancient times when it was celebrated as a pagan festival to honour the change of seasons and the increasing daylight. As Christianity spread across Europe, Candlemas was incorporated into the Christian calendar, commemorating the presentation of Jesus at the Temple and the purification of the Virgin Mary.

The word "Chandeleur" is derived from the Latin term "candelorum festum," meaning festival of candles. Candlelit processions and blessings of candles were central to the celebrations in medieval Europe, symbolising the light of Christ and the arrival of spring.

 

Traditions and customs

In France, La Chandeleur is celebrated with a unique culinary tradition: the making of crêpes. These thin, delicate pancakes hold a special place in French gastronomy and are enjoyed throughout the year. However, on Chandeleur, they take centre stage.

The round shape and golden colour of crêpes symbolise the sun, representing the hope for the arrival of warmer days and the end of winter. As part of the tradition, it is customary to hold a coin in one hand while flipping the crêpe with the other. If the crêpe lands safely back in the pan, it signifies good luck for the coming year.

 

Crêpes: A culinary delight

The art of making crêpes is both simple and intricate. A basic batter of flour, eggs, milk, and a pinch of salt forms the foundation. The skill lies in achieving the perfect consistency – thin enough to be translucent but sturdy enough to hold various fillings.

Once cooked, crêpes can be enjoyed in myriad ways. Traditional toppings include sugar, butter, lemon juice, or a dollop of homemade jam. For those with a penchant for indulgence, Nutella, whipped cream, or Grand Marnier add a touch of decadence. The versatility of crêpes allows for sweet or savoury variations, catering to every palate.

 

Celebrating La Chandeleur today

In modern France, La Chandeleur remains a cherished tradition, bringing together friends and family for an evening of culinary delight. Homes are filled with the aroma of freshly cooked crêpes, and laughter fills the air as each person attempts their best flip.

Restaurants and crêperies across the country offer special menus, featuring an array of crêpe creations to honour the occasion. From quaint village celebrations to grand city festivals, La Chandeleur is a time to savour the simple pleasures of good food and good company.

 

La Chandeleur is a celebration of light, hope, and the promise of renewal. It bridges the gap between winter and spring, infusing warmth, and joy into the coldest days of the year. Through the simple act of making and sharing crêpes, this timeless tradition brings communities together, fostering bonds that endure through generations.

As the aroma of buttery crêpes wafts through French kitchens and streets, La Chandeleur reminds us to embrace life's simple pleasures and cherish the moments spent in the company of loved ones. So, whether you find yourself in France or far beyond its borders, take a moment on February 2nd to savour the magic of La Chandeleur – one crêpe at a time.


Marine Lienard, founder of St Pancras Recruitment

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