I hope that you and yours are well.
Rain is what we have here in the north of France. Bucket loads of it. And high winds that swoosh through the valley bending the trees over, rattling doors and windows and lifting the chickens off the ground like feathered Mary Poppinses.
None of our 6 cats and 3 dogs relish rain. They spend as much time as possible indoors, lazing in front of the fire. Even the sound of Fish Man’s van arriving on a Wednesday morning doesn’t tempt them. He toots his horn outside the house, extends the traditional blue and white awning and opens the hatch to reveal a counter full of fresh fish. The cats simply watch from the window.
It’s definitely weather for staying indoors, reading books, watching feel good French films and yet more baking. This week is all about pancakes since 2nd February is La Chandeleur (Candlemas) in France – pancake day or rather crêpe day. French pancakes aren’t like fluffy American pancakes, they’re delicate and thin. And they’re very easy to make (perfect crepe recipe).
La Chandeleur is an ancient tradition and you can be pretty sure that on the day, in almost every home in France, the sound of flipping pancakes will be heard. It also marks the middle of the winter solstice, signalling the return of sunlight and the beginning of spring. There are dozens of legends about the weather and la Chandeleur including “Quand la Chandeleur est claire, l’hiver est par derrière. Chandeleur couverte, quarante jours de perte.” Or “When Candlemas is clear, no more winter to fear. If Candlemas is overcast, 40 days of winter to last.” There’s also one about if an otter sees its own shadow on la Chandeleur, it will go back into its burrow for 40 days (very Groundhog Day!)…
My neighbour Claudette holds a coin in one hand while she flips the first pancake – it’s supposed to bring riches for your family throughout the year. And some people say you’re supposed to throw the first pancake at your wardrobe and if it sticks you leave it there for a year for good luck. In our house we usually just eat them and consider that lucky in itself. But this year, with all that’s going on, I’m just a tiny bit tempted…
Wishing you a bon weekend and bisous from the middle of nowhere, rural northern France
Janine Marsh is Author of My Good Life in France: In Pursuit of the Rural Dream – ebook, print & audio, on Amazon everywhere & all good bookshops online, and My Four Seasons in France: A Year of the Good Life
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