Forget Groundhog Day! Let’s Eat Crepes All Day And Celebrate National Crepe day in France!

national-crepe-day-france

It’s true, while the US and Canada are waiting for the groundhog to poke its cute little head out of it’s hol on the 2nd of February,  the French are gorging themselves on crepes. Can you imagine?  A whole day dedicated to eating scrumptious crepes?  It just doesn’t get anymore cliché than that.But why is there a whole day dedicated to eating crepes and what do you do on this day? Here is a little introduction explaining everything you need to know about this day including a simple crepe recipe you can make at home. Bon appétit!

 What Is this crepe day called in French?

First lets get the pronunciation right. Crepe is not pronounced like the word  “CRAP”. You don’t say “Deux Crap S’il vous plait”!

The English Way: If you are saying crêpe in English, I suppose you would pronounce it like the word “crape”.

The French Way: If you want to say the word crêpe like a French person would say it then you should pronounce it like the word “beg” or “wet”. Phonetically it is pronounced like this…

“K-R-E-P”

Say it! K-R-E-P…………K-R-E-P…………….K-R-E-P…………………

Perfect. Now you sound like a real French person.

What is this crepe day?

To English speakers, this crepe eating day is called National crepe day, not to be confused with pancake day which falls on the 26th of September while crepe day is on the 2nd of February.

In France and to French speakers, this day is called La Chandeleur. The word Chandeleur does not mean crepe day at all. It comes from the word chandelle which means candle in French. If you are Christian than you know the day as Candlemas.

Candlemas celebrates three occasions according to the Christian belief:

  1. The presentation of Jesus Christ
  2. Jesus’ first entry into the temple
  3. The purification of the Virgin Mary’s ( in Catholic churches).

Many Christians consider Jesus as the “light of the world” and for many centuries it was tradition for clergymen to bless candles, light them in churches and distribute them to people.

This act apparently marked the milestone in the winter weather and that day was important. There were even songs dedicated to this day. More on that in a minute.

You should read about another holiday called L’épiphane where you eat a fluffy brioche like cake and can become king for a day.

The interesting link between crepe day and ground hog day

Now you know that national crepe day is actually called la chandeleur in French or Candlemas in English. But did you know that crepe day which falls on the 2nd of February, is also the same day as ground hog day?

The two don’t sound like they are related but they actually are. The groundhog tradition actually stems from and shares some of the same weather folklore or beliefs which are associated with Candlemas Day and the days of early Christians in Europe.

Here is an English song which talks about what the weather will be like

If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Come, Winter, have another flight;
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Go Winter, and come not again.

The groundhog day tradition sound pretty similar doen’t it.

If on the 2nd of February (Groundhog Day in the United States and Canada) the groundhog sees its shadow, this means thirty days of winter still remain and it goes back into its hole. If the ground hog DOES NOT see it’s shadow than spring is right around the corner.

In many other areas, the groundhog is replaced a bear.

For instance, in parts of France, if the bear come out of his cave and sees that the sky is clear, it goes back to its cave to sleep for another 40 days or 6 weeks because it knows that the clear sky is only temporary. In other parts of France it is the wolf or otter while in Ireland it is the hedgehog.

If la chandeleur is a religious holiday of lights, then why eat crèpes on this day?

we made a crepe cake with alternating layers of nutella and crepes

There is conflicting information as to when and why people started eating crepes as part of la chandeleur but every source I found agrees that eating crepes as part of the original tradition of celebrating la chandeleur. Eating crepes came much much later.

Most sources say that in France, the crepes round shape and colour symbolize the sun and the return of the light which ties in with the tradition of celebrating this holiday of lights.  Now that crepes are part of the tradition, most people still call this tradition la chandeleur. Althoug I have heard of people calling it “le jour de crepe”, (crepe day).

The tradition and flipping crepes

Traditionally, you are supposed to flip a crepe in a pan with your right hand while holding a coin in your left hand. The belief is that if you successfully flip the pancake while holding the coin, you will have enough money or be prosperous until the next chandeleur.

Even my aunt in Montreal used to do this so the holiday is not limited to France but even to some older people living in Montreal who carry on the tradition.

Vocabulary

  • Jour de la marmotte =Ground hog day
  • crepe “K-R-E-P= A thin French pancake
  • La Chandeleur = Candlemas.
  • Le jour de crepe = Crepe Day

Do the French eat crepes a lot?

crepesinfrance.jpg

Yes, the French eat crepes quite a bit. Not just on la chandeleur/crepe day. In fact, most of my friends eat it a few times a month, but Sunday seems to be the most popular day to eat it. Crepes are also not like pancakes at all. They are super thin, not fluffy at all.

French people DO NOT PUT SYRUP on their crepes. I repeat, they DO NOT put syrup on their crepes. EVER.

You don’t have to wait to eat crepes on crepe day, you can usually find them throughout france on little street corners or at markets or carnivals. And they are super yummy. Here is a recipe you can use to make crepes. There is also a video below you can watch.

Recipe

Makes approximately 8 large or 12 small crèpes

2 cups white flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 dash of salt
2 eggs lightly beaten
1+ 2/3 cups milk
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon melted  butter AND a little  extra butter for frying

COOKING DIRECTIONS

Mix the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl.Mix the eggs, milk and water in another bowl.Slowly pour the liquid into the dry mixture while whisking; this makes the batter smoother. And finally, stir in the melted butter.The batter should be extremely runny /watery, this is how the crèpes get so thin.

Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.Heat a crèpe pan or deep, non-stick pan, greased with a little butter. Pour in enough batter to coat the bottom of the pan, tilt the pan left right and every which way to get the batter to spread out thinly across the pan. The thinner the better. Cook over medium heat until the crèpe comes away from the rim, about one minute or until the crèpe is golden brown.Use a spatula or crepe knife to flip the crèpe over. Stack the crèpes on a plate or cover with aluminium to keep warm.

Serve with Nutella, sugar and lemon, strawberry confiture or whatever else you want then fold into a delicious treat.

Here is a video (in French) showing you how to make crepes at home

It is in French but, the measurements are subtitles and the important thing is to notice the pan and the method he uses to make his crepes.

About the Author

Annie André Is a half Thai, half French Canadian/American freelance writer, digital marketer and FOUNDER OF THE LIVE IN FRANCE GUIDE which features travel tips, food, festivals, photography and more from France. Annie currently lives in France with her husband and three children.

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