Global Holidays at Home: French Crepes at Chandeleur

It’s been called La Fête de la Crepes (the party of crepes), Crepe Day and Candlemas. But whatever you call it, La Chandeleur (February 2, 2017) is a good excuse to let kids eat crepes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They’ll get a taste of how the French do things – with both sweet and savory fillings wrapped in their signature thin pancakes.

Meanwhile, prep the kitchen for some fun and festive food fights. Crepe-throwing is just as much of a time-honored tradition as crepe-eating at this fun and kid-friendly holiday.

What’s in a Name?

Nope, it’s not the chandelier festival. In French, chandeleur means “candle,” and La Chandeleur, forty days after the birth of Christ, is known as the day that Joseph and Mary presented Jesus at the temple. To celebrate this divine presentation, churchgoers light candles in a procession through the streets. “What about the crepes?” you may ask. As always, there’s more to the story.

Before the holiday was associated with the birth of Christ, it simply represented the halfway point between winter’s darkest day and the coming spring equinox. Not unlike Groundhog Day in the US, it was a holiday on which the French wanted to say goodbye to winter. And what better way to ward off more winter than to eat a round, bright, sun-shaped orb: a crepe.

Hence Candlemas, La Chandeleur, Crepe Day –  all of these symbols came together in one sweet and lively holiday.

It’s Tradition

Obviously, the best way to celebrate La Chandeleur is to light some candles and eat some crepes! If you’re being really adventurous, maybe you’ll make the crepes by candlelight. But beware: what comes next might not bode well for calm, candle-lit romance.

Kids will love the good-luck traditions that you can follow while making crepes, too. First, there’s the good-luck flip: hold the crepe pan’s handle with one hand and a coin in the other. Then, flip the crepe by tossing it in the air and catching it in the pan while you’re making a wish. If you catch the crepe, your wish will come true! For another tradition, throw your first crepe at the dresser or armoire. If it sticks, that’s good luck for the whole year.

Once you’re finished making crepes and maybe have had plenty to eat too, what’s one to do with all those leftovers? Start a new tradition, of course.

Give each of your kids a paper plate and grab some crepes. Stand across the kitchen from them and toss the crepes in the kids’ direction, like a frisbee. The object is for the kids to each catch a crepe on their paper plate. Once each child has captured one, compare crepes to see which one landed the most squarely on the plate – that’s the winner.

Killer Crepes

Follow a simple crepe formula for the perfect crepe:

Mix 1 ½ cup whole milk, 2 tablespoons vanilla extract, 3 egg yolks and 2 tablespoons of sugar in a blender. When it’s mixed, add 1 ½ cups of flour and mix. Add 5 melted tablespoons of butter and mix one more time. The batter should remain very thin.

Dab butter on a large round pan, 5-8 inches wide. When the pan starts to sizzle, it’s ready to make a crepe. Pour a small scoop of batter into the pan and swirl it around, until the batter covers the entire pan. The thinner the covering, the better. Cook the crepe for about a minute on each side, flipping it in the pan with a spatula, your fingers, or an agile wrist.

When the crepe is almost finished, add lemon and sugar or nutella for a sweet finish. Fold the crepe in half and wrap it in thirds to secure the delicious filling.

For an even more authentic French twist, try savory crepes: omit the vanilla and sugar from the recipe above, and trade the all-purpose flour for traditional buckwheat (or whole wheat) flour. When the crepe is cooked, add mushrooms, melted cheese, spinach, or meat as the filling. Then, wrap and serve as usual. Who knew crepes could be dinner food too?

Will you be celebrating La Chandeleur this year? What type of crepes will you be making? Share with us!

Tags : celebrations   holidays from around the world   global citizen   french holidays   european holidays   catholic holidays   

Lindsey Velasco
By the time I finished reading the crepe recipe, I was drooling all over myself.
Genevieve Raymond
All kinds of yum
Elodie Nilsson
Our favorite tradition!
Nikki M
I'd like to celebrate La Chandeleur everyday if possible