‘Fête de la Chandeleur’
The nearest French equivalent to Candlemas Day is the ‘Fête de la Chandeleur’ known also as Fête de la Lumière, when it is traditional to eat ’crêpes’ . Originally a religious festival dating back to Roman times, this day celebrated the presentation of Jesus, and marked the end of the Christmas season.
It falls 40 days after Christmas on the 2nd February, and has many proverbs and superstitions surrounding it.
One tradition was to light a candle in the church and carry it home without the flame going out. If you managed it, this meant that you would not pop your clogs - Sabots - in the coming year.
To ensure that the crop would be plentiful for the coming year, it was an absolute must to eat Crepes often made of buckwheat flower.
If the elected tosser could flip a crêpe in the pan with one hand whilst holding a gold coin in the other, the family was assured of prosperity throughout the coming year. This tradition continues until today - at least my friend in Paris does it!
Eating crepes was also a way of using up eggs and butter before Lent, at a time before fridges and freezers allowed us to keep fresh food more or less indefinitely.
Finally.... time to talk about the weather which was always vital to the farmers.
If it rains at Candlemas, it will continue to rain for 40 days
If February is clear, winter is behind us. If the Chandeleur is overcast, winter will last another forty days.
....or here’s another which tells us the opposite!
A sunny Candlemas will bring winter and misfortune
Hmmmm, a little bit contradictory, but it is from this day that the days start to grow longer, evenings slowly grow lighter, and our thoughts turn to springtime.