February 2nd - How France Celebrates
February 2nd... Having grown up in NY just over the border from Pennsylvania, I believed that when this particular day rolled around each year the entire world would stop and honor a selected groundhog, named Phil, who resided in the small town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. I imagined that the people around the globe waited as the officials would ask Phil how much longer their winter would last? But in fact, this is not true! The world does not stop and seek the advice of a furry rodent on how long they will need to wait until Spring. ;)
Having said this though, I do not mean that here in France February 2nd is not to be celebrated or that weather predication for an early spring is not forecasted. Just like in the states, various signs will cause people to predict the length of the winter & when we can look forward to having some warmer weather. The French just look to the skies on this day to forecast their predications, rather than to a groundhog named Phil.
February 2nd, also named "La Chandeleur," is a holiday that goes all the way back to the 5th century and has religious roots. Church tradition stated that this date marked the day when Jesus was presented at the temple in Jerusalem. Because of this, the pope at that time proclaimed a procession through the streets and proceeded to hand out a crêpe-like delicacy to the poor pilgrims.
Voila! La Chandeleur was born ... a day to eat crêpes, laden with various toppings and fillings and then to stand outside & determine with the rest of your neighbors by looking at the skies just how long you will have to wait until those poppies begin to show their red petals proclaiming that spring has arrived! (truth be told... we might just pull out that Bill Murray film celebrating the day while we eat our crêpes ... It just seems appropriate.)