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What Is La Chandeleur?

February sees the arrival of La Chandeleur in France. It’s another food-based tradition and follows the frangipane flavoured puff pastry cakes in January. La Chandeleur is a religious festival that is celebrated on the 2nd February – exactly 40 days after Christmas. This festival involves pancakes (crêpes) instead. La Chandeleur is the equivalent of Candlemas and churches are filled with candles.

French pancakes tend to be fairly thin and are cooked in a special pan known as a crêpière with a very shallow lip. American pancakes are smaller and fluffy and UK pancakes use a thicker batter. For authentic French crêpes, you can use the following recipe:

4 eggs
2 cups flour
2¼ cups of milk
2 tablespoons of melted butter
pinch of salt

If you are only making dessert crêpes, then you can add any of the following: 2 tablespoons of sugar, vanilla extract, alcohol such as brandy, rum, grand marnier. In Normandy, Calvados (the local apple brandy) is added to both the batter and used as a topping.

Cook on both sides, adding a little melted butter to the pan as necessary. Watch the video below for a full step-by-step tutorial to see how it’s done.

How to make crêpes to eat at La Chandeleur

Superstitions, Traditions and Sayings

Of course, a festival that is Christian and has Pagan roots has a number of superstitions and sayings associated with it. The origins of La Chandeleur date back centuries to symbolise the end of the winter period. It signals that Spring is not too far away and the days are getting longer. It’s thought that the round shape and golden colour of the crêpe represent the sun. A fertility rite involves holding a gold coin in your left hand and flipping a pancake with your right hand. Traditionally, the first pancake made should be placed on the top of a wardrobe to ensure good crops the following year. The weather also plays an important part in the day according to folklore and determines the weather for the next 40 days.

À la Chandeleur, le froid fait douleur. This proverb translates as ‘On La Chandeleur, it’s painfully cold’. There’s also this one: Si point ne veux de blé charbonneux, mange des crêpes à la Chandeleur. This means that if you don’t want blackened wheat, you should eat pancakes on La Chandeleur. It refers to the wheat crop and ensuring a good harvest.

How To Serve Your Crêpes

Whatever the weather, you can enjoy your crêpes with the topping of your choice. Jam, chocolate spread and oranges or lemons with sugar are all popular. The Normandy option is served with apples cooked with sugar and Calvados to create a caramel and apple brandy topping. You can buy caramel sauce and will usually find it near the shelf for jam. It’s called confiture de lait and is a Normandy speciality. There are more serving suggestions in the video too. Happy flipping!

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