Saturday, February 1, 2014

Let them eat crêpes!

February 2, the Feast of the Presentation of our Lord, is also known as Candlemas Day.  Inspired by the words of Simeon, who proclaims that Jesus is a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel, Candlemas replaced the pagan Roman festival of Lupercales and the Celtic Imbolc when Pope Gelasius I designated the day as one in which candles are to be used to celebrate Christ, Light of the World.  Christians flocked to their churches to acquire candles which, once blessed, they carried home with them, with the hope that the light of Christ would protect their households from harm.  By the 11th century, the Church had instituted a formal procession in which lighted candles were carried through a darkened church while the Canticle of Simeon was sung.

While such processions are rare in the United States, they still hold significance in some countries.  In France, the tradition holds that this feast day, known as the Fête de la Chandeleur, is a day to eat crêpes, a sun-shaped confection with which Pope Gelasius is said to have greeted poor pilgrims entering Rome.  So, if you are so inclined, tomorrow would be a very good excuse for serving this tasy treat, both savory and sweet.  Light a candle, and remember the Canticle of Simeon, Nunc dimittis,

Lord, now you let your servant go in peace;
Your word has been fulfilled.
My eyes have seen the salvation
You have prepared in the sight of every people,
A light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people, Israel.

(PS-Football-shaped crêpes in celebration of that other event going on today are fine, but, I imagine, a little harder to eat!)

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