Article publié dans FR2DAY en février 2011 (article published in FR2DAY in February 2011)
February is now just around the corner and, as often in France, with each new month come new festivities to look forward to, as well as some particular culinary traditions! If in January it is customary to share some “galettes des rois” with family, friends and colleagues, February is the month when the French make crêpes, particularly on the 2nd of February to celebrate the Catholic holiday of La Chandeleur (Candlemas).
Candlemas is a Christian feast commemorating the purification of the Virgin Mary and the presentation of the infant Jesus in the Temple. Like in English, the name comes from the word «chandelle» (candle), as people used to bring back the lighted candles from church to assure good crops for the year to come and to chase the evil.
The reason why crêpes are eaten in France on that particular day is unfortunately quite vague. According to some versions, the tradition dates back to the time of Pope Gélase I, who was famous for feeding crêpes to the pilgrims coming to Rome. For other sources however, the form and colour of the crepes evoke the Sun, which is just about to reappear after a long, dark, and cold winter.
One thing is sure though, crêpes still symbolize today good crops, wealth and health for the year to come. Just as goes the popular saying, “Eating crêpes on Candlemas Day will bring a year of happiness”, it remains traditional to hold a coin in one hand and a crêpe pan in the other before tossing the crêpe into the air. Whoever manages to catch the crêpe in the pan without dropping it on the floor, will be prosperous for the rest of the year.