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Joyeuses Fêtes! (Happy Holidays!)

edited December 2012 in French
As the holidays approach, with many opportunities to celebrate the end of the year (and the beginning of a new one!) with friends & family, you could add a special touch to spread the holiday cheer in French!

Here are some classic expressions you can impress your friends and family with!

Merry Christmas! Joyeux Noël!
Happy Hanukah! Joyeuse fête de Hanoucca!
Peace on Earth! Paix sur terre!
Happy New Year! Bonne (et heureuse) année (2013)!
Cheers! À notre/votre santé. orÀ la notre!

Some other great vocabulary to know is:

winter – hiver (m.)
snow – neige (f.)
tinsel – guirlande (f.)
to light a fire (in the fireplace) – faire un feu de cheminée
presents – cadeau (m.) cadeaux (pl.)
party – fête (f.)
Christmas tree – arbre/sapin de Noël (m.)
Bûche de Noël (Christmas cake shaped like a log)
candle – bougie (f.)
snowman – bonhomme de neige (m.)
Let’s go ice skating! Allons faire du patin à glace!
Let’s build a snowman! Allons faire un bonhomme de neige!
Let’s have a party! Allons faire/faisons la fête!


  • Sev, I may be completely mixing my holidays here... but isn't there a holiday where a small figurine (une fève?) is baked into a cake? Now that I think about it, it's called une galette des rois, so I guess it's on Epiphany/Three Kings' Day?
  • Absolutely. In France, la galette des rois is a cake to celebrate the first Sunday of January (unless it falls on January 1st). 
    It is typically made of pâte feuilletée (puff pastry) ,frangipane or brioche (sweet bun). It indeed has a fève (charm) in a shape of a figurine which tells you you are the king or the queen of the day, and for which you are given a couronne (crown)!
  • Mais oui, je devrais m’en souvenir, car un an, c’est moi qui ai trouvé la fève! Donc, j’ai porté la couronne. Je n’étais pas sûr si c’était la Toussaint ou en janvier.
  • Ah, super! Et c'est très chouette comme expérience quand tu es enfant. Toutes ces fêtes si proches l'une de l'autre, tous ces cadeaux!
  • Sev
    edited December 2012
    Following Christmas of course is le réveillon de la Saint-Sylvestre or le réveillon du Jour de l'an

    A typical dinner will include champagne and foie gras. At midnight, best wishes for the new year are exchanged - Bonne (et heureuse) année (2013)! - and traditionally, people kissed under the gui (mistletoe). Sometimes people follow the tradition further by offering little presents called Étrennes.

    At 8pm, the Président de la République française sends his best wishes for the new year on French TV from the palais de l'Élysée (Élysée palace - the seat of French government).

    The holiday period ends with the Epiphany, a day where the traditional galette des rois is shared.
  • Mother's day in France in 2013 is May 26th. Send a French Ecard for Mother's Day!

    Some wishes include:

    - 'Bonne fête maman!'
    - 'Joyeuses fête des mères!' 
    - 'Ma maman adorée que j'aime plus que tout au monde!' (my beloved mom whom I love more than anything else in the world)
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