Today is La Chandeleur or Candlemas, the day when farmers and gardeners alike look to the skies to foretell when winter will end and spring arrive. As the old French proverbs declare;
À la Chandeleur, l’hiver cesse ou reprend vigueur. On Candlemas, winter ends or strengthens.
Quand la Chandeleur est claire, l’hiver est par derrière; Chandeleur couverte, quarante jours de perte! If Candlemas is clear, winter is behind us. If Candlemas is overcast, winter will last another forty days.
La Chandeleur or Fêtes des chandelles, is a day when the French commemorate the purification of the Virgin Mary and the presentation of Jesus at the Temple. Candlemas is traditionally celebrated in France by the eating of pancakes and the telling of fortunes;
“In your right hand hold the crêpe pan, in the other a coin or piece of gold. Flip the pancake into the air and if you manage to catch the pancake back in the pan your family will have a prosperous year.”
France is not alone in predicting the end of winter today, 2nd February is also Groundhog Day in USA. In the town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, every 2nd February, a furry little groundhog called Phil emerges out of his burrow from hibernation and looks for his own shadow.
Legend says that if it is sunny and the groundhog sees his own shadow then he will take fright and go back into his burrow; winter will then last for a further six weeks. If it is cloudy and he does not see his own shadow, then warmer temperatures can be expected and spring will arrive early.
Today’s predictions for the end of winter and the coming of spring
Today at about 1.25pm French time Punxsutawney Phil gave his verdict for 2017; having seen his shadow, winter will continue for a further six weeks in the USA.
At 1.25pm in la Corrèze, France, the sky was grey; in accordance with French proverbs winter will last for a further forty days here too (which considering we’re forecast snow on Sunday sounds about right!). Sorry little vegetable and plant seeds but it looks like you’ll have to stay in your packets a while longer!
Unless I cheat and observe the English proverb instead…
If Candlemas Day be fair and bright
Winter will have another fight.
If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain,
Winter won’t come again.
Winter may stay, winter may go, but being in France I can at least celebrate La Chandeleur as the French do; by eating pancakes and dreaming of warmer times!
I’d love to know what Candlemas has forecast for you today, please do leave your comments in the box below.