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The tradition of making Crepes for the Chandeleur

February 1, 2011

In the Roman Catholic Church, the Chandeleur, also called the Celebration of the Candles, is celebrated 40 days after Christmas, on the second day of February. It commemorates the purification of the Virgin Mary and the presentation of baby Jesus. In France, it marks the start of the Carnival period that ends on fat Tuesday. It is an occasion for the French to make and eat crêpes…Lots of crêpes!

Why crêpes this particular day? It’s a bit shrouded in mystery but many sources mention Pope Gélase I, who helped establish Chandeleur and used to feed crêpes to the pilgrims who visited his church. The form and color of the crêpes also calls to mind the sun, which is returning after its winter sleep.

According to the tradition, the crêpes must only be eaten after 8 pm and while making them, the French also tend to do a bit of fortune telling. It is indeed traditional to hold a coin in your writing hand and a crêpe pan in the other, and flip the crêpe into the air. If you manage to catch the crêpe in the pan, your family will be prosperous for the rest of the year. Good luck and… bon appétit!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Bénédicte permalink
    September 2, 2011 5:17 pm

    Great, but now where can I find the best crêpes in Paris ?

    • September 3, 2011 10:38 am

      “Marche ou Crêpe” 88 rue Oberkampf in the 11th is an excellent address. It’s tiny but definitely worth a stop!

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