Yesterday was Chandeleur (fête des chandelles) in France, a date on the Christian calendar which translates as Candlemas in English. I know this only because a well-meaning colleague has brought a stack of crèpes and a vat of chocolate spread into the office this morning. I’m on my fourth. It is 11am.
I decided, between crèpes, that I ought to have a look on the interweb to see why I was being obliged to put my New Year’s resolutions on pause (again). This is what I found:
Churchgoers celebrate this originally pagan festival of lights by bringing a special, blessed candle home from Mass. If the candle remains lit all the way home, this is taken to be a good omen for the year to come.
Celui qui la rapporte chez lui allumée
Pour sûr ne mourra pas dans l’année
Crèpes are consumed on this day because according to old proverbs, this guarantees a good wheat harvest. Superstition also has it that if you hold a gold coin in your left hand while successfully flipping over the first crèpe it will bring you prosperity and good fortune. I’m not sure if a gold-coloured 50 centime coin would be considered good enough for this purpose, but in any case, I’ve missed the boat as far as this year is concerned. Probably a good thing as I imagine I would have spent a delightful evening scraping partially cooked crèpes off the kitchen floor.
Superstition and religious festivals aside, to my mind it would be more appropriate to rebaptise this ‘la fête du nutella’. Ditto for Mardi Gras (‘Fat Tuesday’ where the French eat beignets and the English eat pancakes), which rather unfortunately (for my thighs) falls only a week later. Naturally I don’t observe Lent, which would help to make amends for all this gluttony, because I’m selective about which ‘religious’ festivals I celebrate.
Crèpes are one of those foods which I see primarily as a delivery device for naughtier things. Like popcorn, which I only eat for the salt or sugar sprinkled on top, or Pringles which are so much better with a dip. Sure, I could eat a crèpe with lemon juice, but where’s the fun in that, when I could be spreading several centimetres of chocolatey, hazelnutty melty goo on instead?
Fact: Nutella is sold in 3kg tubs. That should be illegal.