Pancakes are not eaten on Shrove Tuesday. Pancakes are eaten 40 days after Christmas on Chandeleur which is celebrated on 2 February. The UK church calendar calls this day Candlemas. It remembers the purification of Mary, the mother of Jesus, 40 days after his birth. Jesus was presented in the temple, so the day is called ‘Présentation’ in my French diary. In the temple Mary, Joseph and the baby were prayed for by Simeon who declared prophetically that Jesus would be a ‘light that will reveal salvation’. Candles representing ‘light’ are prayed over on this day, giving it the name Chandeleur – think of ‘chandeliers’ that hold candles. However, that does not explain why pancakes are the traditional food! One site says that in the Vth century Pope Gélase reinstated some pagan ceremonies, such as celebrating the return of longer days, and that pancakes with their yellow colour and their round shape represent the sun!


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