Candlemas, crepe day in France

Candlemas, crepe day in France History and traditions explained

Eating crepes during Candlemas, each year on February 2, has become an institution in France. Have you ever wondered why crepes? And what exactly is Candlemas?

I tell you the history of Candlemas, la chandeleur as we call it in French, and explain why we, French, have this tradition of eating crêpes, French thin pancakes, that day. To be honest, why we eat more crepes than the rest of the year on the day of the Christian celebration of light and hope.

The origin of Candlemas

It is yet another story of the meeting between pagan traditions and Christian celebrations. The month of February, the period of the first seeds, saw numerous celebrations to invoke the deities favorable for fertility and the harvest; they called for good fortune. When it comes to Pancakes, they have been eaten throughout time in different forms.

The Origin, Pagan rites

Pagan rites consisted of calling for the return of sunny days and harvests by eating cakes. Round and golden, they evoked the sun necessary for crops.

The Celts celebrated Imbolc on February 1; the deity of fertility was celebrated with torch parades.

For the Romans, Lupercalia was celebrated on February 15 (a festival in honor of Faunus, the deity of herds and fertility).

The Greeks, on their side, celebrated the return of Persephone, Queen of the Underworld, to her mother, goddess of Agriculture, with torches.

In the Catholic Religion

At the end of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius 1st abolished Lupercalia to establish on February 2, 40 days after the birth of Christ, the presentation of the child Jesus by Mary at the temple of Jerusalem.

In the Middle Ages, pilgrims began to come to Rome to celebrate the presentation of Jesus, carrying blessed candles. They carried candles as God is “the light that illuminates the nations.” They started with torches at first, then torches and candles, and then finally candles. Hence, the adopted name of Candlemas. The Pope offered the pilgrims something to eat. Running out of bread, he came to offer some thin pancakes. And the story is complete. We come back to the crepes. Hence, the tradition of eating pancakes on Candlemas is widely practiced today, Christians or not.

Other rites appeared, most linked to good fortune.

Placing the first crepe of the batch at the top of a cupboard until Candlemas the following year would keep poverty away.
Making the crepes flip whilst holding a gold coin in one hand is said to bring prosperity.

Another could be this saying as an incantation for good harvests to come: “If you don’t want sooty wheat, eat pancakes at Candlemas.”

Voilà for the cultural and historical minute. Now, onto the crepes!

Tradition of eating crêpes in France

Crepes are eaten both in sweet and savory dishes in France. Most often, savory crêpes are made with buckwheat flour, called galette, which makes them gluten-free. Crepes eaten for dessert or afternoon snack are prepared with wheat flour.

Crêpe batter

Crêpes are among French easiest recipes. All you need is a few ingredients and a whisk or a blender. I’ve written a detailed article to give you all my tips and tricks to make a perfect crêpe batter.

Crepes Easy Recipe, Advices, Tips and Tricks
Crepes French-style thin pancakes. Batter easy recipe and advices, tips and tricks do make delicious crepes as in France. Topping suggestions
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Crêpes Recette de base et conseils

Honestly I often just throw all the ingredients in the bowl of my blender and mix.

Other original crepe batters

Dairy-free French crepes with Hazelnut Milk
No fat nor lactose, no resting time either, with a delicious nutty taste thanks to the plant-based milk. Hazelnut gives a wonderful nutty twist to French thin pancakes called crepes.
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Dairy-free French crepes with Hazelnut Milk
Chestnut Flour Crêpe Batter
Thin French pancakes prepared with chestnut flour. It gives an incredible taste, a must try.
Voir la recette
crêpe à la farine de châtaigne

Crêpe fillings

You can find the iconic Crêpe suzette recipe with its traditional recipe and the flambeed version that always have a wow effect. And many other filling ideas. I’ll make soon a roundup.

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