The French House hosted “La Chandeleur,” the official day of crêpes, on Thursday, Feb. 2 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The Day of the Chandeleur is celebrated 40 days after Christmas. Originally a Catholic celebration, it is now a day dedicated to eating crêpes.
“In France, it’s a big day,” said Amandine Brizard, a French teaching assistant. “It’s a special day when we make crêpes, and I usually do it with my family, niece and nephew because they love it. It’s more than of a family day with friends, but today I’m sharing with friends.”
The French House is located in the Max Kade International Wing of North Village I and houses both students involved in Allegheny’s French program and a French teaching assistant every year. Brizard, this year’s teaching assistant, is a native of Nantes, France. During La Chandeleur at the French house, students could prepare their crêpes with ingredients like nutella or strawberry jam and drink either juice, tea or coffee. Some believe that Chandeleur celebrates the return of the sun and traditionally, crêpes look like and symbolize the sun even though they are eaten in the evening.
“I’m here to obviously make people learn and improve French but also to share my culture,” said Brizard. “You don’t have these kinds of events here and I wanted to show what we can do in France, and that’s why I’m organizing events like these. I think it’s important that people don’t just focus on the language but also in the culture, because it’s altogether.”
Also known as Candlemas, Chandeleur marks the day Jesus was presented at the temple. A Pope during the fifth century would give crêpes to poor pilgrims while a candlelit procession happened in the streets of Rome.
Stefanie Cuellar, ’18, has been to Paris, France as a study abroad student and thinks one of the ways to really experience a culture is by eating the culture’s food.
“I specifically remember walking to the Arc de Triomphe and on the street corner before reaching the arch was a street vendor selling crêpes,” said Cuellar. “That was the first time I ate a crêpe, and somehow the caramelized sugar running down the crêpe onto my hand made watching the arch a whole other experience. I was tasting the culture.”
According to The Local newspaper in France, one crêpe tradition involves a person holding a gold or silver coin in their hand while flipping a crêpe in their other hand. If the crêpes were turned over on the first attempt, there would be enough money for the family each year. Some people save the first crêpe in a drawer or on top of a wardrobe for good luck.
Brent Temeng, ’18, heard about the event through an International Club meeting, of which he is the treasurer. Temeng is from Ghana and learned some of the basics of the French language.
“I think [the event is] more for connecting people and trying to connect cultures as well because we are very diverse,” said Temeng. “I think events like these actually bring people together as far as good conversations.”
Brizard plans to have a “study abroad coffee” with students who have gone to France so they can share their experiences with others who want to study abroad.