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Candlemas is the festival of delicacies and crêpes! A moment of shared pleasure that warms the heart. © AFP
A Catholic celebration of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, forty days after his birth, but also the festival of delicacies and the day of crêpes, Candlemas come from the Latin expression "festa candelarum", the festival of candles, and before everything designates the festival of lights. Candlemas takes place every year on 2 February.
In Latin antiquity
Originally, the month of February designated the last month of the year for the Romans, "februarius", the "month of purification” before the arrival of spring. On 2 February, the Romans celebrated Lupercalia, a celebration inspired by Lupercus, the god of fertility and shepherds. A great procession with participants waving torches led the way to it.
When the Empire became Christian
In the 5th century, in 472, Pope Gelasius I decided to replace the pagan festival of candles on 2 February with the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, but it wasn't until 1372 that this festival would officially be called the Feast of the Purification of Mary. The torches in churches were replaced by candles which were consecrated and which served as a reminder that Christ is the light of the world.
Why crêpes on Candlemas?
At the beginning of February, crêpes were distributed to pilgrims arriving in Rome. It was at this time of the year that the winter sowing season began. The extra flour was used to make crêpes, a symbol of prosperity for the year to come. The French have a saying on this custom which translates: If you don't want sooty wheat, eat crêpes on Candlemas. Another custom: flipping the first crêpe with the right hand while holding a piece of gold in the left hand.