Today, February 2nd is a special day in France. Candlemas is the day the Virgin Mary was aloud to reenter the church after giving birth to the Son of God and present baby Jesus. In those times after delivery, a woman was thought to be unclean and had to wait 40 days to reenter the church.
This day commemorates the purification of the virgin mother and the custom is to feast. In France, this holiday is called jour des crêpes, La Chandeleur or Fete de la Lumière. The last two names for the holiday are to do with lighting candles in church to celebrate baby Jesus. In church they talk about the life of Jesus.
The custom in these parts is to eat crêpes, a lot of them and we join in on the fun. One tradition is to do a little fortune telling as well, holding a coin in your writing hand and flip your crêpe with the other. If you flip it perfectly you and your family will have a prosperous year, which is easy enough for most people in France.
Like Groundhog Day back home in North America, Punxsutawney Phil the famous rodent predicts how long the winter will last or if we get an early spring. If the Woodchuck comes out from his burrow and sees his shadow on a sunny day, he gets scared and reenters his hole and they predict another 6 weeks of winter. If he comes out and it is overcast they say we will have an early spring. Celebrations include an early start to the day with food served, media coverage to record the event and broadcast the prediction across North America. It is a fun tradition.
On Candlemas, winter ends or strengthens
On Candlemas, the day grows by two hours
Candlemas covered (in snow), forty days lost
Dew on Candlemas, winter at its final hour
A Scottish poem:
If Candlemas Day is bright and clear,
There’ll be two winters in the year.
An English poem:
If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter has another flight.
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Winter will not come again.
According to all the information above I am to conclude, with no sun, a light overcast cloud cover, no dew or snow…spring is near. With temperatures nearing 20°c the last few days, buds showing on my rose bushes and tulips and daffodils pushing through the dirt, I could have guessed.
Are you surprised that France has a national crêpe-eating day? I’m not!
How to Make French Crepes
Bon Appétit! That’s Hamori!