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February in Paris has a smell of pancakes

2014-02-05

palacinky-1.jpgYou turn a calendar page from January to February and suddenly all over France pancakes become a hot topic. In the morning you go to the bakery to buy a bread and on the front desk you notice a pile of fresh golden pancakes. On the teacher’s request, children go to the kindergarten with eggs, marmelade or sugar; in the agendas of the school children you find a recipe for pancakes. 

Candlemas holiday "La Chandeleur" is celebrated in France on February 2nd, that means 40 days after Christmas. The word for Candlemas, "Chandeleur" comes from "candela" - a candle. The pagans used candles to repel the evil, storms, death and expressepalacinky-2.jpgd their wish that the winter seeding brings a good summer harvest. In the 5th century the candles in churches replaced the pagan custom of celebrating the light and fertility.
 
On February 15th the Romans celebrated "Lupercus" - a god of fertility. Later the Celts celebrated "Imbolc" on February 1st, a holiday of purification of water that was a source of fertility. At the end of the Roman Empire the Church decided to replace the pagan habits by religious holidays. "La chandeleur" - Candlemas was established by the pope Gélase in 472. This holiday became in 1372 in the town of Avignon a holiday of the Purification of Virgin Mary. It is said that the pope Gélase I. used to welcome the pilgrims coming to Rome with pancakes.palacinky-3.jpg
 
According to the religious tradition "la Chandeleur", or the "chandelles" – the candles holiday is a holiday of the purification of Virgin Mary and presenting Jesus in the Jerusalem temple. According to the Jewish law at that time, mother who gave a birth to a son was considered as impure for seven days and for the next 33 days had to wait for the blood purification (that means that for the period of 40 days she could not enter a sacred place).
 
In the churches sacred candles were lighted and the believers carried them hompalacinky-4.jpge in order to protect their dwellings. At this time of the year started the winter seeding, and so all the remaining flour in the house was gathered  in order to make pancakes for Candlemas. Pancakes were a symbol of prosperity for the new year.
 
Those who are supersticious even nowadays turn the pancakes in the air with a coin in one hand in order to bring prosperity and richness to their home. Or according to a different tradition, one pancake is thrown on the top of a cupboard and is kept there till the next year, in order to bring a good harvest and prosperity to the house.
 
This year on the first February weekend, which was of course a pancakes weekend, Paris was in sun and in its rays one could feel a first touch of the spring warmth. In the morning frost of the park the heads of snow-drops and the leaves of daffodils appeared. It was already possible to sit on a bench by the Seine river and heat your face in the sun, the shape and colour of which resembles the February pancakes. 

Maria Danthine, Paristep

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Preview of picture in folder Paris Pastries | Paristep