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!
I sent you a direct email, call us today and we will get together for a walk or drink.
Hi again Eva
We’ve arrived in Capestang! It’s so lovely here and we’ve already enjoyed the local boulangerie 🙂 Would love to meet up with you for a coffee if you have the time. We’re staying at Rue du Theron.
Good luck Holly! And see next month! How exciting!
Hi again Eva.
Thanks for your reply again and the good real estate information! John sounds like a god-send. I think this visit we might just take your advice and look at the real esteate listings when we arrive, as this visit is to look at the different areas and villages to see about locations and not so much about buying one particular house. Will keep John in the back of my head though.
We arrive mid-April and would be great to meetup – my shout for a coffee and croissant 🙂
My email is email@example.com if you want to drop me a line.
Were we eating Crepe’s when we started out on our next new adventure…I had no idea.Seems like a hundred years ago since we started!
The kids are loving France. Both are doing very well in school, and have many friends. There is a good mix of English and French speakers in our community and everyone is helpful. We only had a very basic understanding of French before we came, as we hired a French tutor from an immersion school close to our south Surrey home in Canada.
Real estate agents do not work as they do in other countries with a Multiple Listing Guide that connects all properties in one place. Everyone has there own listings in France and the prices are subjective. it is difficult to navigate through the system, and you have to go to each agent separately to find out what is available in the village.
What we did, is hire a man to do all the legwork for us, John Wall, and he made the initial contact with each agent and searched for exactly what we were looking for. Without him, we wouldn’t have had an idea what areas are good or bad. His insight is what we needed. Before coming here I had never been to France and we needed help. His wages come out of the sale and does not effect your purchase price. You need to sign the agreement giving him the power to search on your behalf, but it must end in a purchase. If you are just looking and not serious, than no need for a professional person to search for you, just look at the real estate windows with all the photos and see if there is anything you would like to see.
Good Luck with you rental apartment here in Capestang, and we will meet up when after you arrive! When will that be?
Funny you were doing the same thing when you were starting out on your next new adventure. The internet is an amazing tool hey! Definitely agree with the feeling of doing something out of the box. Many friends and family are already calling us ‘crazy’ for thinking we would do something like this with kids…but you’ve got to try things don’t you 🙂 We have found a lovely 2 bedroom apartment in the centre of Capestang to rent through a lovely lady called Liz who also has a barge boat business in Capestang. I can’t wait now. I love when your plans start feeling ‘real’. How do your kids find France? Did you guys speak French before you arrived?
Thanks again for a great informative blog.
oh – can you recommend a good estate agent in the area at all? I wanted to contact someone before we arrive.
Hi Holly! I was you contacting people that had done it before us on the beaten path just a year and a half ago. With little idea of what was ahead, we had a dream to do something outside the box and after a year now in our home, I found what we were after. My only advice, keep your eye on the prize. There will be bumps on your road to happiness, but always remember the dream. Europe has so much to offer, and I feel the world is getting smaller and smaller, with globalization opportunities are unfolding to the brave, and people like you are living their dreams.
I wish you endless luck and patience. Have you found a place in Capestang yet? Probably with someone we know no doubt! 🙂
I wish we made the time to visit you in Treviso after our visit to Milano. Didn’t get the culinary adventure we were after when I was hit with a bad flu. The French do many things right in the food world, but pasta, which we love the most, is left to the Italians, hands down! <3
I’m loving your blog. I was just searching for info about Capestang on google and your blog came up. I felt like I was reading about my ‘future life to be’! My husband and I plus our two small kids are about to head off in April on a 3 month trip around Spain, France and Italy to look for our dream place to live. We’re going to be spending two weeks in Capestang and two in Uzes (places I’ve researched and liked the look of). Your blog has been a nice inspiration! thanks Holly
Our whole family loves crepes and our traditional Christmas dessert is Crepes Suzette!
The French have the best desserts! We are jealous of your weather, it is typical Rainy Vancouver here!!!!!
Loved the Milano posts, sounds like you had a great time with your Mother.
Lots of Love
Danna and Roberto