Celebrated exactly 40 days after Chrismas, on February 2nd, Candlemas is essentially synonymous with conviviality. This tradition, originally a Roman feast, has been continued from generation to generation. Candlemas has several origins, but whether pagan or Christian, the key is to respect the rule of homemade!
The History and Traditions of “La Chandeleur”
Candlemas like many celebrations around the nativity is related to the light but also to purification, fertility and prosperity. The word “Chandeleur” comes precisely from candelarum, candle in Latine, according to a tradition of lighting candles at midnight as a symbol of purification
In Roman times, Candlemas was celebrated from February 2-15, to honor the god of fertility Lupercus during the Lupercalia. It was a rite of purification
The Celts celebrated Imbolc on February 1st. This ritual honored the goddess Brigit, celebrating the purification and fertility at the end of winter. Peasants carrying torches roamed the fields and moving in procession, praying the goddess to purify the soil before sowing.
Pope Gelasius I in the 5th century replaced the old pagan rite of Lupercalia, a rite of light by a legacy of Roman religious festival, with the festival of Candlemas. One part of the ritual which finds its origin in a Hebrew traditionl was that a first boy born had to be presented to the Lord by his mother, 40 days after birth, with an offering of two doves. The rite observed by the Holy Family is described in the Bible.
In churches, torches are replaced by blessed candles to push away evil and recalls that Christ is the light of the world. The Christians then bring the candles at home to protect their homes.
La Chandeleur, Crêpe Day
At that time of the year, when Candelmas was celebrated, winter planting was beginning. So people used the surplus of flour to make “crêpes”, a symbol of prosperity for the coming year! It is said that Pope Gelasius I, which Christianized Candlemas, comforted the pilgrims arriving in Rome with “crêpes”.The shape and the color of the “crêpes” evokes the sun. Indeed “crêpes” are golden discs like the sun.
Therefore, the Chandeleur has become with the years, the day of “crêpes”. It is especially loved by children. The tradition is that “the cook has to skip the “crêpes with a gold coin in hand (a Louis d’Or). If he succeeds, his house will be prospering all year long.
Another custom, which is much less common, is to take the first “crêpe” and put it in the closet!
The most important remains to share good time with friends and family, around a greatly loved specialty: the crêpes, which should of course be homemade!
Perfect “Crepes” without lumps:
Ingredients (10/15 crepes):
– 300 g flour
– 3 eggs
– 3 / 4 liter of milk
– 3 tablespoons oil
Beat the eggs. Mix the flour with the salt and make a well in center. Add eggs and mix with a whip. Add the milk gradually, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Whip vigorously. If the batter has lumps, the mix or pass through a fine sieve. Let it rest about 15 minutes
It is ready! Now comes the hard part of cooking it
Heat a nonstickpan. Rub the bottom of your pan with oiled paper towel or put a small piece of butter. Pour a little bit of the dough in the bottom of the pan with a small ladle, turn the pan to evenly distribute the dough into a homogeneous disk. Cook the pancake on one side. Loosen the edges of the crepe and then return it. Cook it on the new side and then put it on a plate.
You can add salty things like ham eggs and cheese. If you put all those things together in a crepe, it is called a crepe “complete”. You can also fill it with sweet ingredients like jam, sugar, honey or mapple syrup. One of the best sweet crêpes is with salted butter, sugar and lemon!