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How to celebrate Chandeleur in France

By Jean
Reading Time: 3 minutes
chandeleur in France

As international students embark on their journey to live and study in France, they find themselves immersed in a culture rich with traditions and celebrations. Among these, Chandeleur in France, also known as Candlemas, holds a special place in the hearts of the French people.

Celebrated on the 2nd of February, exactly 40 days after Christmas, Chandeleur in France is much more than a religious feast; it’s an occasion that brings together warmth, light, and of course, crêpes. Here’s a comprehensive guide for international students on how to celebrate Chandeleur in France, embracing its customs and making the most of this delightful tradition.

The Historical and Cultural Significance of Chandeleur

Chandeleur’s origins are twofold, blending pagan traditions with Christian beliefs. It marks the presentation of Jesus Christ in the temple and is associated with the purification of the Virgin Mary. Historically, Chandeleur also heralds the coming of longer days and the early signs of spring. The tradition of lighting candles is a nod to this celebration of light, symbolizing purification and hope.

The Star of Chandeleur in France: Crêpes

The making and eating of crêpes is synonymous with Chandeleur. These thin, delicate pancakes are not just a treat; they embody the essence of the celebration. The golden colour of crêpes is said to resemble the sun, symbolizing the return of spring after the dark winter months. For international students, participating in this tradition is a delicious way to dive into French culture.

How to Make Crêpes

Making crêpes is an enjoyable experience and a chance to hone your culinary skills. You’ll need a simple batter, a non-stick pan, and a bit of practice to flip them perfectly. Here’s a quick recipe:

  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2⅓ cups whole milk
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2⅓ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Blend eggs, milk, sugar, and vanilla until smooth, then mix in flour and salt. Chill the batter for at least an hour. In a medium nonstick skillet brushed with butter, cook ¼ cup of batter over medium-high heat, swirling to coat. Cook until edges are golden, about 3 minutes, flip, and cook for another 15 seconds. Keep crepes warm under foil as you make the rest.

The Crêpe Flipping Tradition

A quirky tradition associated with Chandeleur in France is flipping crêpes. It’s said that if you can flip a crêpe with your right hand while holding a coin in your left, you’ll enjoy prosperity throughout the year. It’s a fun challenge for students to try, perhaps turning it into a friendly competition with peers.

French Preferred Flavors

In France, the preferred flavours for crêpes can vary widely, reflecting the country’s rich culinary diversity. However, a classic favourite among French people is the simple yet delicious combination of lemon and sugar. This pairing, with the tartness of the lemon juice lightly sprinkled with granulated sugar, perfectly complements the delicate, buttery crêpe. Another beloved choice is Nutella, which offers a rich, chocolate-hazelnut spread that has become synonymous with crêpes, especially among the younger generation. Additionally, crêpes Suzette, with its sophisticated sauce of caramelized sugar, butter, orange juice, and Grand Marnier, remains a traditional favourite.

chandeleur in France

Embracing the Chandeleur Spirit

Chandeleur is more than just eating crêpes; it’s about warmth, sharing, and community. Here are a few tips on how international students can fully embrace the Chandeleur spirit:

  • Host a Crêpe Party: Invite friends over for a crêpe-making soirée. It’s a great way to bond, share different crêpe fillings, and enjoy each other’s company.
  • Explore Local Celebrations: Many towns in France hold special events or masses for Chandeleur. Participating in these can provide a deeper understanding of the celebration’s religious and cultural significance.

Beyond the Celebration

For international students, celebrating Chandeleur in France is an enchanting experience that combines history, culture, and culinary delights. It’s an opportunity to engage with French traditions actively, make lasting memories, and perhaps, perfect the art of crêpe making. So this February 2nd, embrace the spirit of Chandeleur, gather your friends, and let the warmth of this celebration brighten the winter season.

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