02 February 2006

La Chandeleur

Today, February 2, is called la fête de la Chandeleur in France. It's the 40th day after Christmas, when according to Jewish tradition Mary took Jesus to the temple to be presented to the rabbis. Chandeleur comes from the term that gave us candle in English — candles were lit during the service in the temple.

Crêpes will be stuffed with ham and melted cheese for lunch.

In France, today is a day when everyone makes and eat crêpes among friends and family. Tradition has it that you are supposed to hold a coin in one hand and flip a crêpe in the pan with the other. That brings good luck and prosperity for the year. If the crêpe flips out of the pan, you are supposed to leave in when it falls for a year, until next February 2. Otherwise you'll have bad luck. I've never known anybody who left a crêpe lying on the floor or the stove for a year, but everybody I know does make crêpes on February 2. I'm going to do the same today.

Crêpes in the pan for dessert, to be served with confiture or sugar and lemon juice.

Chandeleur is somehow related to the American groundhog day, because there is this proverb:

A la Chandeleur, L'hiver s'apaise ou reprend vigueur.

On the Chandeleur, winter turns mild, or regains vigor.


  1. February 2 is also my sister Lisa's birthday, so I'm going to send her this link to read about something other than the groundhog tradition. Thanks!

    BTW, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow today. Here's the "official" statement:

    Phil Says Six More Weeks of Winter!

    Phil's official forecast as read 2/2/06 at sunrise at Gobbler's Knob:

    It is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
    Around the country there are many imitators of me.

    In Harrisburg there is Gus who appears on TV
    working for the lottery.

    Then all around town,
    Cute groundhog statues abound.
    They all look like me, I found.

    Today on the Knob as I'm doing my job,
    I don't like this likeness of me.

    It's my shadow I see. Six more weeks of mild winter there will be.

  2. So how does it work? If the groudhog sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter? If he doesn't see his shadow, winter is basically over?

    I don't understand the part about "six more weeks of MILD winter there will be." But then again, it's a superstition, so it doesn't have to be logical, right?

    Happy Birthday to Lisa!

  3. Maybe the groundhog eats the fallen crêpe...
    Chris P

  4. There aren't any groundhogs in France. I looked in the English-French dictionary and it says that a groundhog is a "marmotte d'Amérique". I don't know if there is a "marmotte d'Europe".

    Here's the explanation of Groundhog Day in that dictionary:

    Groundhog Day est une tradition américaine selon laquelle on peut prédire l'arrivée du printemps en observant le comportement de la marmotte d'Amérique, censée sortir de son hibernation le 2 février. Si le soleil brille ce jour-là, la marmotte est tellement effrayée par son ombre qu'elle prolonge son hibernation de six semaines, ce qui signifie que l'hiver se prolongera d'autant. La sortie de la marmotte est filmée chaque année à Punxsutawney, en Pennsylvanie, et l'événement est diffusé à l'échelle nationale.

  5. I'm enjoying reading your older posts. Feb. 2 is a "Cross-Quarter Day," one of the 4 times a year when feudal lords collected taxes from their tenants, days roughly halfway between Solstices & Equinoxes in the pagan traditions. In the town where I live in the US, this is still when our property taxes are due four times a year! I wonder if communities know they are following ancient tradition.


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