La Chandeleur (Candlemas), the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord (or Purification of Our Lady) celebrated on February 2, once marked the end of the Christmas season (40 days after Christmas). In France and Belgium this day has a particular perfume to it---certainly of lit candles but also of something sweeter---crêpes.
The flat pancakes are traditionally prepared and offered to family and friends on this day, but it’s not just about making the crêpe, it’s about flipping it successfully, or “making it jump” as they say in French. To do it right, the tradition dictates you must hold a gold coin in your right hand (I know I have a lot of gold coins lying around from my last treasure hunt) and flip the crêpe in a frying pan with your left hand. If successful at these pancake acrobats, a year of ensuing happiness and riches follows. Most people forgo the gold coin and just flip. The crepe must not land on the floor, stick to the ceiling, or land crumpled on the nearby coffee maker (yes I have done that), but rather flat as a pancake back in the pan!
My friend in France told me his grandmother used to make crepes on La Chandeleur and would give him one to take to the chicken coop, to bring good luck and lots of eggs! He told me the chickens would only eat half the crepe. "Why would they only eat half," I inquired, being the astute journalist that I am. "Because I ate the other half on the way to coop."
The French. Gotta love 'em.
Happy Crepe Day!