French Tradition La Chandeleur- candlemas

The French tradition La Chandeleur (Candlemas) takes place on the 2nd February. Actually it is considered the last cycle of the Christmas celebration. So in religious tradition, Christians were only meant to clear the Christ’s manger scene after la Chandeleur. To find out more about the religious side of things, read our other article on La Chandeleur here.

Nowadays, la Chandeleur is mostly known as the day of the crêpes. It’s a day when families and friends all make crêpes and enjoy them together. If you’ve got a favourite crêperie (crêpe shop) then make sure to check out if they’re doing an event for the occasion! But why make them in the first place? There are a number of theories for this:

  • The colour and shape of the crêpes is meant to be evocative of the sun after a harsh winter.
  • Using the wheat of the previous harvest to make crêpes was meant to be a charm of good luck for the next harvest.
  • Pope Gélase I used to distribute a crêpe-style dish to the pilgrims who arrived to Rome and the tradition just continued.

Perhaps it’s a combination of all these things, but who can say no to a crêpe? Especially in France! Another side to this festival is the celebration of bears. In German and Scandinavian areas, bear festivals used to take place in the Middle Ages. When the bear came out from its cave at the end of winter, it meant that the weather would soon get warmer. This was obviously good news for a farming population! They celebrated the bear’s appearance with carnivals, processions and skits of kidnapping young girls. Needless to say, the Church was not thrilled about this. Therefore the pope Gélase I may have started Chandeleur instead. In areas such as the Alpes and the Pyrénées, la Chandeleur was called la Chandelours instead (“ours” meaning bear).


Or click HERE to discover more French traditions.


Photo credit: soniaC –