The Lou Messugo Blog - life in the south of France from a British/Australian TCK's perspective, bringing you French culture, travel on the Côte d'Azur and beyond, expat issues and a little bit of je ne sais quoi all mixed up with a hefty dose of photography.

Posted by on in Food & Drink

Pancake Day - la Chandeleur - another French feast!

The 2nd of February is Pancake Day in France, called la Chandeleur.  It marks the end of the Christmas period coming exactly 40 days after Christmas and is a Catholic holiday, Candlemas. 

crêpes crêpes

The word "chandeleur" comes from "chandelle" meaning candle which associates it with light (the day is sometimes referred to as la fête de la Lumière) but like most celebrations to do with the Nativity, Chandeleur is also traditionally linked to purification and fecundity, being the day the Virgin Mary was allowed back into the church having given birth to Jesus. Nowadays it's a family time most simply associated with eating crêpes, the delicious thin French pancakes.

crêpe with banana and chocolateChandeleur is celebrated throughout France as la fête des crêpes.  A week or so before the date you start to notice supermarket displays of flour, eggs, jam, Cointreau, cider and Nutella and then you know Chandeleur is just around the corner.  The region of Brittany is most associated with crêpes as a local speciality and it is from there that the tradition of drinking cider with them comes from.  So these days no matter where you are in France at Chandeleur it's common to accompany your crêpe with a bowl of cider. (Yes, bowl not glass!) Here in the south there are no local particularities so we just indulge any old way. The overwhelming favourite for my boys is, like most kids I reckon, crêpe au Nutella, a wickedly scrummy chocolate and hazlenut spread (for those of you not yet initiated into this heavenly delight!) but a close second is ham, cheese and egg.

crêpes Chandeleur

There are many superstitions surrounding Chandeleur, nearly all to do with the weather. These date back to when France was primarily an agricultural land and the weather played a vital part in everybody's prosperity and welfare.  Researching this post I came across numerous proverbs warning of the consequences of specific weather at Chandeleur:  "Soleil de la Chandeleur, annonce hiver et malheur" (if it's sunny at Candlemas winter will continue bringing bad luck).  Others warned of 40 days lost if snow was still on the ground "Chandeleur couverte, quarante jours de perte" and even the exact opposite of the first, heralding in good news if the day was fine: "Si la chandelle est belle et claire, nous avons l'hiver derrière". Confusing! Luckily for us today is a nothing day weatherwise.  It's as dull as can be, cloudy, breezy, no sun, no rain and no snow so I think we're just about covered for all eventualities.  

crepes for Chandeleur at school in France

Yesterday afternoon the Parents' Association at our primary school handed out crêpes to all the children for free - made by volunteers for all 650 kids!  This evening we'll be flipping pancakes en famille.  Tradition has it that you hold a gold coin in the hand that you write with and flip the pan with the other.  If you catch the crêpe you are guaranteed prosperity in the coming year.  Tradition in my family has it that most flipped pancakes end up on the floor or drooping precariously over the side of the pan, but they taste great and so far I think our levels of prosperity are good enough!

flipping a crêpe at Chandeleur

Do you like crêpes?  See my simple recipe for authentic French pancakes and have a go at making them yourself, it's easier than you might think.

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Pancake Day in France is called la Chandeleur

credit for first photo (piles of mini crêpes)

 

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Comments

  • Guest
    Donald Aladano Friday, 10 February 2017

    Good Day! This is Dan Aladano from GMA Network Inc, a broadcasting company in the Philippines. We are doing a segment about French food and Included Crepes and would like to include the Crepe day in France in the feature. In this regard, may I ask if we could use the photo of this article as file photo of the people enjoying the Crepe day in France in the segment feature? Please let me know if this is OK? In this comment section or at my email danaladano09@gmail.com

  • Guest
    Phoebe Friday, 10 February 2017

    Hi Dan, thanks for getting in touch, I'll reply to you by email.

  • Guest
    Anon Monday, 02 February 2015

    Yummy I wish we had food days in the USA

  • Guest
    Jill Friday, 24 October 2014

    ah chocolate crepes! yummy! a favourite from our visit to Paris years ago.
    I love these little pancake pans.

  • Guest
    Phoebe Saturday, 16 February 2013

    The cinnamon pancakes sound yummy Delia. French don't use much cinnamon in their cooking in general but I love it. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I really appreciate it.

  • Guest
    Delia | Blog Formatting Sunday, 10 February 2013

    Oh my, these pancakes look incredibly yummy, Phoebe! We are making pancakes too - not too often, though, as it would be all that we'd eat, LOL!

    We love them with chocolate or strawberry jam and tiny bits of walnuts and some cinnamon on top, just delicious!

  • Guest
    Corinna Thursday, 07 February 2013

    Hope all pancakes did indeed end up on the plate, and ultimately in tummies, and not on the floor!

  • Guest
    Phoebe Saturday, 16 February 2013

    Yes, all pancakes eaten, and not scraped off the floor!

  • Guest
    Delhi Stay Tuesday, 05 February 2013

    Hey,it's really interesting day in France, i would like to visit France in next vacations. :)

  • Guest
    Phoebe Saturday, 16 February 2013

    Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment; I hope you get to France soon! :o

  • Guest
    Catherine Saturday, 02 February 2013

    Yummy. Not very like the English shrove Tuesday. I can't imagin our primary schools giving out pancakes but maybe they do. Even so I think I prefer sugar and lemon on my pancake

  • Guest
    Stephanie Saturday, 02 February 2013

    We've had blazing sunshine and snow showers today so I'm not sure what that means for the rest of winter.

  • Guest
    Phoebe Saturday, 16 February 2013

    Hi Stephanie
    How has it turned out so far, weatherwise, 2 weeks later? Thanks for taking the time to comment. I hope you're getting some signs of spring where you are.

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Guest Sunday, 26 March 2017

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