Here in the UK we are just under two weeks away from pancake day, but in some European countries like France, Belgium and Switzerland they will already celebrating their Jour de crêpes this coming Saturday as this day, 2nd February, is La fête de la Chandeleur.
Depending on what you read and where, this has its origins both in a pagan festival of light (the roundness of the pancakes bearing some semblance to the sun) and in the Christian festival of Candlemas, or Christ’s presentation in the Temple, the word chandeleur being derived from the word for candle chandelle.
Either way it’s another occasion, like Mother’s day, when different cultures mark events in different ways. This means it’s also an opportunity to develop pupils’ sense of intercultural understanding by drawing out the similarities and differences between what we do and when, compared to other cultures. A simple activity is to sort some statements into those which relate to Pancake day in the UK, those in France and those which relate to both using a Venn diagram as in this .ppt slide: Le jour des crêpes.
There’s plenty more information as to the origins of La Chandeleur on Wikipedia as well as on sites like Mômes. This site also includes some rhymes to do with La Chandeleur and some recipes for crêpes.