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Pancake Day | La Chandeleur in France

Every year on 2 February it is pancake day… or rather La Chandeleur in France, the day of the crèpe (French for pancake).

The ‘Fête de la Chandeleur’, is also known as Fête de la Lumière (nothing to do with the famous Fête de la Lumière in Lyon) and the jour des crèpes. The celebration dates back to Roman times when it was held to commemorate the purification of the Virgin Mary and the presentation of the baby Jesus.

The name Chandeleur, comes from the Latin candelorum festum, which means festival of candles and in English language is known as Candlemas.  There is evidence that Pope Gelasius I (died 496) helped to establish the festival of Candlemas and was said to feed crêpes to the pilgrims who visited his church.

La Chandeleur falls 40 days after Christmas on the 2nd February, and apart from eating lots of pancakes stuffed with all manner of scrumptious fillings, it’s a day for fortune telling and legend! The golden colour of the delicious round crêpe is a reminder of the sun and the approaching spring.

How to make a perfect crepe/pancake

Traditions of la Chandeleur/Candlemas

There are lots of fun legends and old wives tales about La Chandeleur and Candlemas:

If you light a candle in church on the day of Candlemas and you manage to carry it home without the flame going out, you will survive the year!

Eating lots of pancakes on the day of the fête de la chandeleur will ensure a good crop!

If you can flip a pancake with one hand, whilst in the other holding a gold coin – your immediate family will prosper financially all through the year! Or flip and hold a coin and make a wish – catch it and your wish will come true!

If you toss your crèpe on the armoire and it sticks – that is a sign of good luck and prosperity for the year (or a sign you need to get a cloth out and clean up!)

If it is raining on the day of Candlemas – it will rain for the next 40 days. If it is overcast and cold – winter will last for another 40 days. If it is a clear day – winter is over.  Although having said that, there is also a saying that if it is sunny on Candlemas then winter will return and bring misfortune with it!

What wine to pair with your pancakes/crepes

For all crepes – Bubbles!

Rosé for fruit and sweet, or a demi-sec (slightly sweet) like a Vouvray. Dry Champagne with notes of brioche and almond for savory crepes. It will also add some zip to the creaminess of the Chantilly Cream or Ice cream.

What to pair with sweet crepes

For sweet crepes, go for a Crémant de Bourgogne Rosé or a Dosage Champagne, or even a sweet wine like a Sauternes.

The Sauternes will go really well with caramel, hazelnut chocolate and sugar flavors as well as caramelized or poached apples and pears (complimentary flavors). But it will be rich pairings, maybe good to have a glass of bubbles on the side!

The bubbly will be refreshing with those flavors.

For fruit crepes- red and black fruits, like berries, will go excellently with a bubbles rosé. Crémant be Bourgogne is an excellent choice to have a great wine in the Champagne style without the price tag. It’s also a little more fruity than a blanc de blanc. The golden rule for sweet things is that your wines must be as sweet as your dessert. Otherwise it will bring out all the bitter tannins and high acids of the wines, making it not pair well with your food.

What to pair with savory crepes

Savory Crepes – crepes fromage (with cheese) will be good with pretty much any kind of bubbles, but it could also go with a light red wine like Beaujolais or Cote de Nuit. Still Rose, like Provence will also go well. Add some ham or vegetables, and a light bodied red will also do very well. A full white wine would also do well, like a Southwest Chardonnay or Meursault, or a Chardonnay from Languedoc. Though sometimes those are too heavy for breakfast.

Happy Crèpe Day!

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