La Chandeleur: a day for eating crêpes in France

It's time to enjoy a plate of crêpes as France celebrates Crêpe Day! Known as La Chandeleur or the Jour des Crêpes, February 2nd of each year is a day to celebrate and feast on mouthwatering crêpes.

Not to be confused with pancakes, crêpes are soft, delicate, wafer thin cakes that are well-known in France. The word Crêpe, comes from the Latin word crispus and old French crespe meaning curly or frizzled which is a characteristic of the edges of a crêpe once cooked. They are typically made with flour, eggs, milk, and butter, and cooked on a stove top using a flat pan.

Originally from Brittany, in the Northwestern region of France, these delicacies can now be found all over France - and all over the world - to be enjoyed by all.


Different Types of Crêpes

Crêpes can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. A classic crêpe favourite is the Crêpe Beurre-Sucre which are crêpes served with butter and caramelized sugar and sometimes topped with a sprinkle of lemon juice.

Another favourite is the Crêpe Suzette which are topped with caramelized sugar, butter, orange juice and zest, splashed with Grand Marnier, then served flambéed table side.

These light and buttery goodies are also enjoyed with fruits of the season like strawberries (fraises) and peaches (pêches), different fruit jams, (confiture de fruits) and of course chocolate (chocolat).

Crêpes can also be enjoyed as a meal with savoury fillings like ham (jambon), cheese (fromage), mushrooms (champignon) and different kinds of vegetables (légumes). 

Crêpe Day or Le Jour des Crêpes

Le Jour des Crêpes or more traditionally known as La Chandeleur (Candlemas in English) has its roots in Christian tradition. It is the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus Christ in the Temple, or for Catholics, the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

It is celebrated every 2nd day of February, 40 days after Christmas Day, and is considered as the end of the Christmas cycle. During this feast day, Christians would bring candles to Church to have them blessed. The candle is supposed to represent Jesus being the light of the world thus the feast day was called La Chandeleur meaning the candle.

Now how did this Christian holiday become known as the day of eating crêpes in France? Some say that the tradition began with Pope Gelasio I who offered crêpe-like fare to French Catholic pilgrims who visited him in Rome during La Chandeleur.

Others say that the tradition was due to the time being right before the new harvest and the surplus of wheat from the previous harvest were made into crêpes - crêpes symbolizing the coming of luck and prosperity for the rest of the year.

Whichever of the stories are true, the tradition of eating crêpes during La Chandeleur has become a French tradition and is celebrated all over France as a secular holiday. It is spent making and enjoying crêpes with the family and crêperies having special events to celebrate the wonderful crêpe.

Now, let’s enjoy a plate of crêpes.

Bon Appétit!

 

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