February 2: Groundhog Day and La Chandeleur

Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day is an annual tradition observed in the United States and Canada.

In the U.S., members of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club gather on February 2 around a burrow in the town of Punxsutawney in western Pennsylvania and wait for the groundhog to emerge. It is believed that the groundhog can predict the arrival of spring!

In the 1993 American fantasy-comedy film, “Groundhog Day,” Bill Murray plays a meteorologist who is sent to report on the event. He experiences déjà-vu when he wakes up each day and February 2 repeats again and again.

This year’s prediction, however, was not a repeat of last year’s. It appears that Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow! According to legend, this means that there will be six more weeks of winter. (If he had not seen his shadow, then there would be an early spring.)

Groundhog Day is believed to have been adapted from a German custom of having a badger predict the weather, which itself is believed to have been an adaptation of a religious tradition involving candles.

La Chandeleur

The French also celebrate the religious tradition on February 2. They call it La Chandeleur, which comes from chandelle, the French word for candles. Similar to Groundhog Day, there are weather-related sayings or superstitions about this day:

« Chandeleur couverte, quarante jours de perte » (If it’s covered in snow, 40 more days will be lost winter)

« Soleil de la Chandeleur, annonce hiver et malheur » (If the sun is out, it indicates winter and misfortune)

« Quand la Chandeleur est claire, l’hiver est par derriere » (If it’s clear, then winter is behind us)

« Quand il pleut pour la Chandeleur, il pleut pendant quarante jours » (If it’s raining, it will rain for 40 days)

Crêpe Day

I like butter and brown sugar on my crêpes (Feb. 2, 2021)

One way to celebrate La Chandeleur is by eating crêpes!

“San Francisco” crêpe from Crepevine has smoked salmon, capers, spinach, and dill havarti (2018)

In California, the regional stay home orders have been lifted. Some restaurants are offering indoor dining again. I can’t wait to go back to Crepevine, one of my favorite restaurants.

But until then, I’ll make crêpes at home. I’m glad they’re so easy to make and require just six ingredients and a pan!

Recipe:

  • 1 cup of flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • butter (for the frying pan)

Mix all ingredients together. Unlike pancake batter, the mixture will be thin. Pour 1/3 cup of the mixture onto the lightly buttered pan that’s over low heat. Swirl the pan until the batter coats the bottom of the pan. Flip the crêpe when the sides are lightly brown. Enjoy it warm with jam, Nutella, lemon juice, or powdered sugar.

Paris Las Vegas (2016)

Do you like crêpes? What do you like to put in them?

Bay to Breakers: San Francisco’s Famous Foot Race is Going Virtual

The 109th Bay to Breakers 12K foot race through the streets of San Francisco will now be a virtual race taking place from Sunday, September 20, 2020 to Friday, October 2, 2020!

Instead of the traditional “live” route through San Francisco — from downtown SF (“Bay”) all the way to the Pacific Ocean, where the waves break and touch the shore (“Breakers”) — participants will get to choose their own route. Each day, there will also be a costume theme.

They call it virtual, but it won’t be filmed. Instead, participants will have the option to run around their neighborhoods or on their treadmills at home. It’s not quite the same, but Bay to Breakers organizers are determined to keep its spirit alive!

So far, I have done Bay to Breakers three times – in 2011, 2014, and 2018. I’m a long-distance walker, not a runner, so I go for the fun of it.

Bay to Breakers 2011

Doing Bay to Breakers is like being in a parade. It’s festive! It’s like a traveling fashion show. It’s a great opportunity to re-use an old Halloween costume. One year, I felt especially creative and made Frozen-inspired costumes. My friend was Queen Elsa and I was Princess Anna!

Bay to Breakers 2014

bacon-wrapped hot dogs

I spy a French bakery – do you see it?

Alamo Square and the Painted Ladies

Bay to Breakers is an all-ages affair, but if you want to bring the baby, you’ll need to wear the child in a backpack-type of carrier. A few years ago, they banned alcohol and anything on wheels, like floats.

But part of the fun is trying to see what you can get away with, right? So, you’ll see the course dotted with the occasional baby stroller. Also, some people carry alcoholic beverages in plain-looking water bottles. Security officers are not likely to stop or cite rule breakers if they are discreet.

The event is also educational, let’s just say! You learn about plants (cannabis), anatomy (nudity), and games (adult toys and paraphernalia)…and so much more!

But no one judges and no one cares because it’s all for fun. Sure there’s serious prize money involved, but those winnings go to the top two finishers who usually reach the finish line around the 30-minute mark. Incredible! It takes me 30 minutes just to locate the starting line for the walkers’ corral!

Bay to Breakers 2018

“athletic” is used loosely here

Traditional tortilla toss at the starting line

The Murphy Windmill, one of two windmills in Golden Gate Park

Every registered participant who reaches the finish line gets a finisher’s medal and all the free snacks you can eat courtesy of event sponsors.

By no means did I win any costume contests nor break any speed records (my personal best remains at 2:15:50 at my first Bay to Breakers in 2011.)

Bay to Breakers 2011

But walking through San Francisco —literally from downtown SF all the way to Ocean Beach — provides a feeling of satisfaction like no other. It’s kind of addictive. Maybe that’s why people sign up year after year!

Question is: Will people sign up this year for the virtual race? I’m concerned about everyone’s safety. We’re still in the middle of a pandemic, with recent spikes in new cases in many places (California, sadly, being one of them.) We are still required to practice physical distancing.

It’ll be interesting to see how the virtual race will go. According to the Bay to Breakers website, “You can run wherever. The beauty of a virtual race is you can create your own course – we recommend something that’ll shock the neighbors.”

Like what? Participants wearing face masks and not much else, perhaps? I wouldn’t be surprised. It’s Bay to Breakers – that’s the spirit!

Stay healthy and safe, everyone! 😷