Crêpes at the ready as France celebrates Chandeleur

Today (Sunday February 2) marks the Christian festival of Chandeleur, which is traditionally celebrated in France by the making of crêpe pancakes.

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The lesser-known festival - known as “Candlemas” in English - takes place 40 days after Christmas Eve. Its name comes from “Festa Candelarum” (“candle festival”) in Latin, and marks the commemoration of the “Presentation of Jesus at The Temple” - recognised as a key event in Jesus’ early life.

The celebration is said to date back to the fifth century, and is associated with Roman-era Pope Gelasius I, who wanted to reward pilgrims who had travelled to Rome for the festival by offering them crêpes.

Crêpes are also often associated with light, the Sun, and abundance, due to their yellow, golden colour and round shape. They are also often seen as a pagan sign of fertility and prosperity for the year ahead; and a symbol of longer, brighter days on the approach to spring.

Makers are advised to flip their crêpe in their right hand, while holding a piece of gold in the other hand, to bring about prosperity for the year.

Crêpes are also supposed to be made with “last year’s flour”, ahead of the imminent Spring harvest. Traditionally, it was also habitual to keep “the first crêpe” for one year - stored on top of a wardrobe - to ensure that the harvest would be abundant.

In France, supermarkets sell ingredients for crêpes ahead of Chandeleur every year, but reports suggest that it is an easily-forgotten festival, so soon after Christmas and New Year.

Last year, the marketing director of sugar company Béghin-Say told news source Linternaute: “It is one of those festivals that we have to ‘reactivate’ every year, otherwise customers do not think about it.”

Crêpes are traditionally eaten with cider, with the chosen variety depending on your topping - from chocolate, to jam, to applesauce.

Other rituals for Chandeleur include lighting candles at your windows, to symbolise the “light of Christ”.

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