We are in the mid season of winter. The lavender fields are frozen. The farmers take this opportunity of ‘resting time’ to check and service their equipment.
This is an introduction to one of the traditions in France; Candlemas is a one of the oldest Christian holidays also commemorating the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple on every 2nd of February. As mentioned in the bible at the 4th century AD, this event took place 40 days after the birth of Jesus on the 25th of December – Christmas.
La Chandeleur in latin means ‘Festival of Candles’. In the tradition of the Catholics, Anglicans, Methodists and Lutherans, the priest blesses the candles brought by the faithfuls that will be used in their homes during the year. These lighting of candles not only symbolise the renewal of faith but also the Purity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Customary, many Christians remove their Christmas decorations on the Twelth Night (Epiphany Eve). However, there are others that will remove them on Candlemas.
Traditionally, all the candles should be lit in the house. It is also celebrated with crêpes – thin pancakes. Shaped round and golden colour, it is said to represent the solar disc symbolising the rebirth of nature precisely the return of Spring after the cold and dark Winter. Pope Gelasius I had ordered pancakes to be distributed to the pilgrims arriving in Rome.There are a few symbols related to the preparation of the crêpes. An old tradition linking to a fertility rite is to flip the crêpes in the air with the right hand while holding a gold coin (Louis d’or) or more commonly a normal coin in the left hand. If the pancake lands properly back in the pan, one will have prosperity throughout the year. The most superstitious will even place the first crêpe made in an armoire to ensure a good harvest and good luck for the year. More specifically if it is placed on the top of the armoire, and not get moldy ; that will keep misery far away.
A crêpe receipe as follows :
- 250 g of flour
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 l of milk
- 1 pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp of sugar
- 50 g de melted butter