Candlemas in France and Italy

Candlemas is a Christian holiday that takes place on February 2nd each year.

imageIn France they eat crepes for Candlemas. Monique wrote, “…you have ‘la chandeleur – les crêpes’ for Candlemas.  From mid January till early February in stores they sell “crêpières” (flat, low frying pans to cook crêpes) and all the stuff necessary (or supposed to be) to make crêpes: large bowls, whisks, spatulas and the like and of course, flour, sparkling cider…

imageTraditionally, the Christmas Manger is taken down on this day, finally bringing the Christmas season to an end.

There’s also a saying that goes, ‘À la Chandeleur, l’hiver se meurt ou prend rigueur.'”  Meaning, at Candlemas, the winter dies or gets stronger.”  This sounds like another celebration on this day that predicts the weather for the rest of the winter… Groundhogs Day!

In Italy the celebration is different. Emanuela wrote, “We celebrate the feast of Candlemas on February 2, we recall that Jesus was presented to the temple. We remember that the message of Jesus has brought light to many people, and in the churches the priest blesses the candles that people can take home and use them when they pray. We do not eat special sweets.

On February 3rd there’s St. Biagio Day, the patron saint of the throat (protecting against sore throats and choking). In churches, the priest used to bless the bread that people would take home and eat for the good of their throat. Now, we also bless sweet mints, and then the grandmothers offer them to the family, to the grandchildren

imageThere’s a story about the life of St. Biagio where a mother brought to the saint her son who was choking on a fishbone. The saint (who was in prison at the time) blessed the boy and saved his life. The mother did not know how to thank the saint so she gave him a candle to illuminate the cell where he was locked up at night and a bit ‘of bread to eat. Hence arose the tradition of the blessing, with two candles crossed at the throat on his feast day.

This blessing is imparted using two candles blessed (according to the custom of some places) on the previous day, i.e. Candlemas.

That such a blessing is popular today, can seem a bit outdated or even superstitious… this ancient blessing evokes a terrible reality in the past for westerners: diphtheria. When a child had a sore throat, something very common in winter (around this holiday), the family was impelled to seek protection against a relentless disease that affected mainly weaker beings.”

Thanks for sharing Emanuela and Monique!

Feel free to let us know how you celebrate Candlemas in your country in the comments below.

Mama Lisa

This article was posted on Thursday, February 2nd, 2012 at 6:40 pm and is filed under Candlemas, Countries & Cultures, France, French, Holidays Around the World, Italy, Mama Lisa, St. Biagio Day. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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