Candlemas is an ancient Latin pagan festival that became religious. Celebrated every February 2, 40 days after the birth of the Savior, it coincides with the presentation of Jesus Christ in the temple. The commemoration is linked to many traditions and customs. Among others, the making of pancakes, using last year’s flour, the use of the right hand to make them jump or the holding of the gold coin in the left hand. Let’s find out more about these customs that accompany Candlemas.
Traditions of a Christian religious festival
Candlemas celebrates the moment when the Christ Child was presented in the temple in Jerusalem. In churches, the faithful bring lit and blessed candles in place of the torches of the torchlight procession. Placed in front of their windows, the glow is supposed to bring light inside the house. Blessed candles are said to provide purity, ward off evil, or avoid the dangers of fire. For some people, their supernatural virtues are used to give chances of healing to the sick or even dying.
A good moment of greedy sharing
Originally, Candlemas was dedicated to purification rituals in the hope of a flourishing new year for women, land and herds. The peasants carry out the torchlight procession through the fields, praying to the goddess to hope for the fertility of the land before sowing.
According to tradition, this is an opportunity to eat delicious cereal pancakes, sweet or savory, in a festive atmosphere. Many may not know it, but the meaning of this ritual is very deep. In fact, this recipe honors Proserpine, the Roman goddess of the harvest or the germination of plants. It is made with the leftover flour from the previous year, symbolizing the prosperity of the coming year.
The rounded shape and the gilding of the pancakes refer to the solar disk and predict happiness. The celebration at the beginning of February corresponds perfectly with the end of winter and the beginning of spring, which means a new harvest cycle for farmers. The days will also begin to lengthen.
The traditions concerning the Candlemas festival
The making of pancakes is a must on the occasion of Candlemas. Otherwise, the situation would predict a bad harvest next year. But this practice involves some superstitious rituals, which change according to the region.
The pancake and the gold
When popping the first pancake, the person in charge of cooking must hold the pan and spin the contents in his right hand and a gold coin in his left hand. The ritual is meant to bring happiness for the coming year. Instead of gold, a coin is used nowadays, but the concept remains the same.
Some people keep this first pancake on top of a cupboard in the master of the house to ensure a good harvest. Others fold the thin pancake around the Louis d’or before leaving it on top of the cabinet. For the following year, they recover the remains and offer the piece inside to the first destitute person they meet.
The pancake and fertility
By successfully jumping the pancake, women hope for an imminent pregnancy with a perfectly healthy child. This tradition takes up the idea of the fertility rite of the Lupercalia, where young women who wish to have children are whipped through the streets of the city.
The pancake and the young girls
According to the legend, the girls who manage to blow up six pancakes continuously, without dropping them, will have the chance to find the ideal fiancé in the new year.