Until recently I had never heard of La Chandeleur and honestly, I think I’ve been missing out. I am all about holidays, especially holidays that encourage the eating of pancakes. Who isn’t? So when my friend L invited me along to her Chandeleur party at the beginning of February and helpfully explained that we would celebrate by eating pancakes and possibly drinking some Normandy cider, I was 100% in.
La Chandeleur is sometimes also known as la fete de la Chandeleur or la Fete de la Lumiere. The word Chandeleur comes from “chandelle” or candle (and Lumiere means light). Traditionally, it’s a Catholic festival known as Candlemas and celebrates the first presentation of Jesus at the Temple, Mary now being allowed to return there after having given birth.
It’s a celebration of light and purification and, supposedly, the round pancakes eaten by the French during this celebration are supposed to be reminiscent of the Sun and refer to the return of Spring after a long and dark Winter. But, y’know, any excuse to eat pancakes, really.
Now, as I said, I’d never heard of this festival before. Having not been raised in a particularly religious household I hadn’t even heard of Candlemas or the festival of presentation, never mind Chandeleur. I have to wonder how many other opportunities to eat pancakes I’m missing out on. Anyway, as far as I can tell, L isn’t especially religious either, but misses celebrating Chandeleur at home and was keen to have people come and enjoy it with her.
She even taught us the best way to check when the pancake batter was ready for making crepes. A ladle full of batter poured gently back into the bowl of batter, will “sing.” Ok, it’s not actually very musical, but that trickling sound indicates the correct consistency for thin, crispy, delicious pancakes.
Catholicism is strangely silent on the significance of various toppings for your crepes (you know what? It actually almost certainly isn’t, but I didn’t want to look it up – if you find anything interesting about it feel free to let me know). However, we were provided with fruit, chocolate spread, peanut butter and some really good maple syrup, so I don’t feel like anyone could pretend that we didn’t do it properly.
I really enjoyed the evening and fully intend to use it as an excuse to make and eat pancakes in the future. Unless L wants to make them again, in which case there’s no way I’d interfere with her superior creperie skills.
3 thoughts on “Celebrating La Chandeleur”
Fun fact, back in the Good Old Days, when we had terms at the University rather than semesters (*sniffs disapprovingly*), they were named Martinmas (October – December), Candlemas (January – Easter) and Whitsun (Easter to summer). That’s actually the only reason I’ve ever heard about Candlemas (although I never bothered looking up what it was, so thanks for the description).
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I’d much prefer Martinmas, Candlemas and Whitsun to S1 and S2. What a shame that they changed.