Sanity Savers 5: Celebrate!

dsc03231Today is February 2, Ground Hog Day, Candlemas, La Chandeleur!

Dinner tonight: buckwheat crêpes with cheese, ham, fresh mushrooms sautéd in butter and garlic, maybe an egg, and a glass of hard cider… A blend of pagan, religious and culinary traditions:

“Among the Celts, the pagan celebration of Imbolc occurred on the first of February. This was in honor of the goddess Brigid and was associated with purification and fertility at the end of winter. Peasants would carry torches and cross the fields in procession, praying to the goddess to purify the ground before planting.

In churches, the torches were replace by blessed candles whose glow was supposed to take away evil and symbolize that Christ is the light of the world. They would then take the candles to their homes to bring protection to their homes. In 1372 this celebration would also be associated with the purification of Mary at the Temple (similar to the churching of women).

Crêpes with their round form and their golden color are reminiscent of the sun, an appropriate symbol during Candlemas, as this is the time of the year when the days get longer. It is also the time of year when the winter seeds begin to grow. The people therefore used left-over flour to make these crêpes, symbolizing prosperity for the coming year.”

“In the United Kingdom, good weather at Candlemas is taken to indicate severe winter weather later: ‘If Candlemas Day is clear and bright, / winter will have another bite. / If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain, / winter is gone and will not come again.’[22] It is also alleged to be the date that bears emerge from hibernation to inspect the weather as well as wolves, who if they choose to return to their lairs on this day is interpreted as meaning severe weather will continue for another forty days at least.

“In the United States, Candlemas coincides with Groundhog Day, the earliest American reference to which can be found at the Pennsylvania Dutch Folklore Center at Franklin and Marshall College. The reference implies that Groundhog Day may have come from a German-American Candlemas tradition:

Last Tuesday, the 2nd, was Candlemas day, the day on which, according to the Germans, the Groundhog peeps out of his winter quarters and if he sees his shadow he pops back for another six weeks nap, but if the day be cloudy he remains out, as the weather is to be moderate.

— 4 February 1841—from Morgantown, Berks County (Pennsylvania) storekeeper James Morris’ diary, [2]

In France and Belgium, Candlemas (FrenchLa Chandeleur) is celebrated with crêpes.”

“In addition, the Festa candelarum in Rome commemorated the search for the Goddess of Light Persephone kidnapped by the King of the Other World Hades, by her mother the Goddess of Life Demeter. As Persephone was no longer in our world, darkness was everywhere, so her mother used a torch in her search, and in the end obtained that her daughter would be on Earth and Olympus for two thirds of the year (the light period), and in the Other World (Hades) for the other third of the time (winter season). The festival of candles symbolizes the return of the Light.

February takes its name from the Latin verb februare which means ‘purification’. Christianity has therefore placed the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin at this time. The purification in question is the departure of the ‘winter darkness’. The myths of Sleeping Beauty or Theseus and Ariadne (for example) relate to the release or liberation of the light (Dawn of the year) by the ‘solar knight’.”

Bon appétit!

xxxxxx Aliss

Candles, Groundhogs, Crêpes

Rose Window, Notre Dame, Midwinter
DSC02512Sunday morning, Ivan and I were invited to church. Young girls in white capes greeted us at the door with candles to light for the ceremony. As I tried to keep up with the unfamiliar liturgy, half in Latin, half in French, “Lumen ad revelationem gentium: et gloriam plebis tuae Israel, présentation du Seigneur au Temple,  purification de la Vierge Marie, quarante jours après la naissance“… “This must be Candlemas!” resonated in my mind, like an echo from Elizabethan times. Thoughts about the earth’s path around the sun, how pagan Bear cults celebrating the end of hibernation transformed into La Chandeleur (chandelle + ours?) in France and Groundhog Day’s Punxsutawney Phil extravaganza in the US… Northern Hemisphere, early February, exactly halfway through Winter, energies are at their lowest, statistically more people leave the planet now than any other time of year. Parisian skies are gray and heavy. It’s not just my personal after-Christmas blues… we all need reminders that life renews and returns. Are round golden brown disks with sugar and melted butter images of the sun?

On tonight’s menu, two versions: savory buckwheat galettes with cheese, ham, an egg or creamy mushroom fillings, sparkling cider, green salad, then crispy thin dessert crêpes with jam, cream or chocolate-nut spread…

A game I play when making fluffy American pancakes: waiting for the bubbles to pop on the griddle, I flip them over to see the smooth “sun” side, then flip again to see how the bubbles have formed a pattern on the “moon” side. What pictures come up? Clues to our heart’s desire? I call it Pancake Divining 🙂

Also see:

to be continued

PS Wrote this before I knew Eric Kristy had passed… And Kim’s mother, and so many others…unbelievable…