what pancake traditions in the world?

CANDLEMAS In France, the pancake festival takes place this Thursday, February 2, 2023, a tradition shared with other countries. Did you also know that each country offers its own crepe specialty? Candlemas celebrations around the world.

[Mis à jour le 1er février 2023 à 16h38] Appearing in the 5th century, Candlemas is not specific to Brittany and is not only celebrated in France. The pope in office at the time, Gelasius, wanted to reward pilgrims who came to Rome to celebrate the presentation of Jesus in the Temple with pancakes. The choice of pancakes is not important. They represent, through their round shape, the Sun and prosperity. At that time, the pancakes were prepared with flour that was from the previous year.

At the beginning of the 21st century, most French people have continued this gastronomic rite, with regional particularities that have become more evident in recent decades: calvados and apples in Normandy, beer in dough in Alsace and in the North, wheat flour in Brittany, etc. Depending on the taste, the accompaniment varies: chocolate, salted butter, honey, caramel, jam, chestnut cream, lemon, fruit…

This pancake festival is not limited to France. It is also celebrated in Switzerland, Luxembourg and even in Mexico, where it is baptized Dia de la candelaria ! Mexicans gather around tamales, a type of pancake with a South American sauce. The feast resembles that of the Magi, for during Candlemas in Mexico, a king cake is eaten, in which is hidden a bean representing the child Jesus. Whoever pulls the beans is responsible for preparing the tamales. This practice was exported by Mexican communities that settled around the world. It is part of France’s intangible cultural heritage.

In Luxembourg, pancakes are not the only stars of Candlemas. As expected as in France by students, Candlemas somewhat overlaps with Halloween in the country. Children, armed with colored lanterns, called Liichetebengelcher and usually done in class, roam the streets in search of some coins or sweets. In the United States and Canada, where the crepe has been replaced by the pancake, Candlemas has given way to “groundhog day”, which consists of patiently waiting for a groundhog to emerge from its burrow. As a prediction, depending on the movement of the animal, we can know if the winter will be long.

“Simple pancakes”

At the beginning of the 21st century, most of the French continued this gastronomic rite of the crepe, with regional particularities asserting themselves in recent decades: calvados and apples in Normandy, beer in dough in Alsace and in North, wheat flour in Britain, etc. Find all our suggestions for the filling below, along with the recipes that accompany them when it can be more complicated than a simple addition of jam:

Apple pancakes with Calvados sabayon. © chefphotography / Adobe Stock

Depending on the flavor, the ingredients vary: banana and chocolate, salted butter, orange blossom, honey, apple and caramel, chestnut cream, apple and Val de Rance cider, jam, beer, lemon, fruit, maple syrup, sweets or simply with little sugar.

La Chandeleur owes its name to “Festa candelarum”: in Latin, “festival of candles”. Believers will build using candles or candles. This tradition is particularly alive in churches: among Catholics, the priest can take advantage of this holiday to bless the candles of people who come to pray, bought in advance and used during the year. Devotees often take one home and display it in their window on February 2. In the past, it was customary to remove Christmas-related items (holly, nativity scenes, etc.) on the occasion of Candlemas. . Golden-filled and disc-shaped, the appearance of Candlemas crêpes resembles an Epiphany galette. In the countryside, it is said that the year’s flour will be lost if it is not used for crêpes de la Chandeleur. Around the 5th century, farmers used the surplus flour from sowing to prepare pancakes that symbolized future prosperity.

The origins of Candlemas remain disputed. In the Roman Empire, it was customary, in the middle of February, to celebrate the Lupercalia. This period, rich in unrestrained festivities (such as the Saturnalia of mid-December, which would have given rise to Christmas), was celebrated in the Lupercal, a grotto located at the foot of the Palatine in Rome, in honor of Faunus, deity of herds and fertility. However, the month of February marked, in a society based on agriculture, an important period: the period of first sowing.

Candlemas, reminiscent of Imbolc. Based on ancient pagan traditions, Imbolc is a Gaelic festival that celebrates the end of winter and the arrival of spring. © LNP/Shutterstock/SIPA

The period also corresponds, in northern Europe, to the ancient Irish Celtic cult ofImbolc. Farmers then celebrate the fertility deity by organizing torchlight parades. It is not certain, however, that these pagan festivals directly developed the festival as we know it. Christianity assigned the date of February 2, at least as far back as the fourth century, before the event was formalized by Pope Gelasius. Rejoicings celebrating the presentation of Jesus in the Temple, forty days after Christmas Eve, are mentioned in Near Eastern texts from the fourth century. Pope Gelasius “officialized” the ceremony a bit, extending it to all of Christendom, which was not yet divided (Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant churches would appear later). The holiday is also said to have been popularized by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian.

Christianity assigned the date of February 2, at least as far back as the fourth century, before the event was formalized by Pope Gelasius. On this day, Christians celebrate the presentation of Christ in the Temple, 40 days after Christmas, the day of his appearance on earth. In the presentation of Mary’s son, Simeon would have recognized the “divine nature” of Jesus. It is this sacred truth that gives Christians the meaning of Candlemas, which celebrates the light brought to Earth. Believers will build using candles. Hence the name of Candlemas, which comes from the Latin “Festa candelarum”, “festival of candles“.

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