Carnival, Candlemas and Pancakes!

When I was little, January was the month I dreaded the most. Christmas and New Year were gone; it was dark and cold.

The only highlight was that great-grand-aunts and neighbours were bringing me homemade doughnuts (beignets). Added to those my grandmother would make, I would pretty much eat just these for about two months. Or at least that’s how it felt like. There were so many – with slight variations – but all delicious. I couldn’t possibly let them go to waste.

This ritual would start about mid January. I never questioned why, it just happened. It was a tradition, which would mark the start of carnival period with its parades and dressing up parties.

Who knew that carnival period started with the Epiphany (Kings day on 6/01) and lasted until Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday, just before Ash Wednesday)? So many opportunities to celebrate!

This includes La Chandeleur (Candlemas) on 2/02. This ‘event’ is right in between the winter solstice and the spring equinox; it is named after the candles Christians would bring to church to remember the presentation of Jesus at the Temple.

For me though, it always meant one thing: pancakes. (les crêpes)

Pancakes and doughnuts are amongst the most ancient festive cakes. During this time of the year, they embody the excess allowed before a period of fasting, pre-easter. They are also paving the way for the arrival of spring  – the victory of light over darkness.

In essence, it’s party time again! Until this years’ Mardi Gras on 4/03, bake doughnuts and make pancakes as often as you like.

You’ll find a plethora of recipes online but these 2 are pretty good:

Paulette’s doughnuts (Paulette is my grandfather’s new ‘girlfriend’ and an excellent cook)

Cyril Lignac’s pancakes (Cyril Lignac is the French Jamie Oliver)

carnival treats

Categories: Traditions

Tags: , , , , ,

4 replies

  1. That was a charming post, Laetitia. I didn’t grow up with the tradition, so even the word “Candlemas” sounds like something from far, far away — or even a holiday in a fantasy novel with quaint traditions and green hills and the occasional magical being. Oops… there went my sense of whimsy, running off on its own again! 🙂 Happy Candlemas,

  2. Reblogged this on Continental Touch and commented:

    Happy Chandeleur!

  3. We are just learning here in Germany that the Carnival/Fastnacht season starts early too. In the Black Forest, a couple of weeks ago, we stumbled upon a Carnival parade, as well as a cuckoo clock maker who was pulling out and dusting off his carved masks for a celebration that week in Switzerland. So much fun to discover new takes on old traditions that you thought you knew.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: