12 Festive French Christmas and New Year Greetings and traditions

So is your New Year’s resolution to speak Parisian French fluently? Confidently? To get by?

Let me help you figure this out, during these few days that lead to the new year – we’ll stay in the holidays spirit, and we’ll learn a bit about the French, the language, the customs and see if that helps you make a decision to start your French fluency journey.

Festive Christmas and New Year Greetings and traditions are different in different countries.

When you are in France or speaking to the French around the winter holidays, it may be a little challenging if you don’t know what to say, no?

Check out the article below about 12 Festive French Christmas and New Year Greetings and traditions, and watch the videos for some festive pronunciation!

 

1st Day of Christmas: December 25th

Joyeux Noël

Priority number one: Learn how to say “Merry Christmas”. Joyeux translates to “joyous,” while Noël is simply the word used for “Christmas.” After you’ve mastered the pronunciation, use it as your number one go-to for Christmas greetings—and as a starter phrase for building even more holiday phrases.

Christmas Eve

The evening of December 24th is when French families sit down together to celebrate Christmas and enjoy festive French foods and wines. If you’ve heard about French people eating long and slowly, this dinner is the greatest example of this French custom. The meal can go for up to six hours.


Watch the video for pronunciation

1-12 days christmas» 12 Days of Christmas GIFT:
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2nd Day of Christmas: December 26th

 

 

Vœux de Bonheur pour un Joyeux Noël

Here’s an example of when Joyeux Noël is used as only part of the greeting. Vœux de Bonheur pour un Joyeux Noël means “Happy wishes for a Merry Christmas,” and is a more pleasant and also more advanced way to wish someone a Merry Christmas. It’s most often used in holiday cards and messages, so feel free to jazz up your writing with it.

Le Réveillon

This is the name of the French Christmas Eve meal, which is a big and long feast. The name comes from the verb réveiller, to wake up or revive. Increasingly more families start this French Christmas tradition on Christmas Day, when it is easier for the whole family to gather together.


Watch the video for pronunciation

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3rd Day of Christmas: December 27th

 

 

Passez un Joyeux Noël en famille

If you’re talking with someone about their plans for the holiday season, and they mention your family, this greeting would be perfectly appropriate. Passez un Joyeux Noël en famille means “Have a good Christmas with your family.”

Traditional French christmas food

Food is a big part of French Christmas traditions. It depends on the region but some common French Christmas foods include: smoked salmon and oysters with bran bread and (real) butter, foiegras (goose or duck liver pâté), goose, capon or turkey stuffed with chestnuts. Servings of vegetables such as green beans cooked with garlic and butter and provincial herbs sautéed potatoes.

To finish the feast you will get the amazing looking and tasting La bûche de Noël, a sponge cake decorated like a yule log, traditionally made of chocolate and chestnuts.


Watch the video for pronunciation

3-12 days christmas» 12 Days of Christmas GIFT:
BONUS “Le génie verbale” video collection of all the verbs you need to confidently make conversation in French (a value of $59), when you register to the J’Ouellette® Intensif program.

 

 

 

4th Day of Christmas: December 28th

 

 

Meilleurs vœux !

Outside of the holiday season, Meilleurs vœux means “good wishes” or “best wishes.” But at Christmastime, it means “Season’s Greetings,” and is the perfect holiday phrase to encompass all of the Christmas and New Year’s holiday events, from Réveillon to the Fête des Rois (Three Kings’ Day, a celebration in January that rings in the New Year with a cake and crowning of a “King” or a “Queen” within every family).

Les treize desserts

This is a Provençal French Christmas tradition but worth mentioning as it sounds so ‘challenging’ – can you imagine having 13 desserts after the Christmas feast? In France they are important as they symbolize Christ and the 12 apostles at the Last Supper. Typical desserts include fruits, nuts and sweets such as dried figs, hazelnuts or walnuts, almonds and dried grapes or a cake called Pompe à l’huile. As part of this Christmas tradition in France, everyone has to taste each dessert in order to have good luck for the upcoming year.

 


Watch the video for pronunciation

 

4-12 days christmas» 12 Days of Christmas GIFT:
If you want to become masterful at French expressions, check out the J’Ouellette® Intensif program. If you register now, you get as a BONUS the program “From Newbie to Oh, là-là !” an 8-week self-study program that helps you get by in your next trip to Paris (a value of $299).

 

 

 

5th Day of Christmas: December 29th

 

 

Bonnes et heureuses fêtes! / Joyeuses fêtes !

You can switch to Bonnes et heureuses fêtes! or Joyeuses fêtes (either one means “Happy Holidays”), which is a good substitute for Meilleurs vœux and a great way to greet someone and catch all the season’s events together, especially if you’re not sure whether they celebrate Christmas or not.

French alcohol at Christmas

Mulled wine is popular in bars and in French Christmas markets, although you won’t see it so much at French houses. During Christmas dinner a very good wine is required and Champagne is imperative.

 


Watch the video for pronunciation

 

5-12 days christmas» 12 Days of Christmas GIFT:
If you want to become masterful at French expressions, check out the J’Ouellette® Intensif program. If you register now, you get as a BONUS 10 additional Skype classes to help you master the French conversation (a value of $300).

 

 

 

6th Day of Christmas: December 30th

 

 

Bonne année et bonne santé

This wish means “have a good year and good health”. It’s important never to wish anyone a Bonne Année (Happy New Year) in France before midnight on New Year’s Eve as this brings bad luck. 🙂

Table decoration

It is very important for French people to have their Christmas dining table looking extremely elegant and inviting. It’s common to put three candlesticks on the table, which represent the Trinity. An interesting French Christmas tradition is that the French knot the ends of the tablecloth so the Devil can’t get under the table.

 


Watch the video for pronunciation

 

6-12 days christmas» 12 Days of Christmas GIFT:
If you want to become masterful at French expressions, check out the J’Ouellette® Intensif program. If you register now, you get as a BONUS “Le génie verbale” video collection of all the verbs you need to confidently make conversation in French.

 

 

 

7th Day of Christmas: December 31st

 

 

Meilleurs Souhaits pour Le Nouvel An

If you’re ready to leave behind the word vœux for a spell, souhaits means the same thing—wishes—and can communicate something very similar. Meilleurs Souhaits pour Le Nouvel An means “Best wishes for the New Year.”

Le sapin de Noël

The Christmas tree is decorated some time before Christmas Day, so there’s plenty of time to be ready for Christmas Eve when Santa Claus comes. But, some people put up the tree on December 24th, and enjoy it for weeks to come.

 


Watch the video for pronunciation

 

» 12 Days of Christmas GIFT:
If you want to become masterful at French expressions, check out the J’Ouellette® Intensif program. If you register now, you get as a BONUS the “From Newbie to Oh, là-là !” program, an 8-week self-study program that helps you get by in your next trip to Paris (a value of $299).

 

 

 

8th Day of Christmas: January 1st

 

 

Que l’année 2018 vous procure bonheur, santé et prospérité

Sometimes, even though you’ve sent many good wishes and holiday greetings, you’d like to be a little more specific in what kind of happinesses you wish upon someone in the New Year. Here’s a phrase that does just that.

Que l’année 2018 vous procure bonheur, santé et prospérité (May the year 2018 bring you happiness, health and prosperity) goes beyond the usual Meilleurs vœux and outlines the positivity you’re wishing into someone’s life for the upcoming year.

 


Watch the video for pronunciation

 

8-12 days christmas» 12 Days of Christmas GIFT:
If you want to become masterful at French expressions, check out the J’Ouellette® Intensif program. If you register now, you get as a BONUS 10 additional Skype classes to help you master the French conversation (a value of $300).

 

 

 

9th Day of Christmas: January 2nd

 

 

Je vous souhaite d’excellentes fêtes, et bonne année 2018

Another way to wish someone happy holidays is to tell them you’re doing so. Je vous souhaite (I wish you) will communicate just that.

Je vous souhaite d’excellentes fêtes, et bonne année (I wish you an excellent holiday and a Happy New Year) followed by the (new) year makes for a very kind greeting.

You can also simply say Joyeuses fêtes et bonne année (Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year), which is less of a mouthful and still gets the same idea across.

Shoes in front of the fireplace

French children put their shoes near the fireplace so that Père Noël can find them and fill them with small presents or treats.

 


Watch the video for pronunciation

 

9-12 days christmas» 12 Days of Christmas GIFT:
If you want to become masterful at French expressions, check out the J’Ouellette® Intensif program. If you register now, you get as a BONUS 5 additional Skype classes to help you master the French conversation (a value of $150).

 

 

 

10th Day of Christmas: January 3rd

 

 

The mistletoe (le gui)

Mistletoe is popular in French Christmas traditions and used as an important decorative item. People hang it above the door during the Christmas season, where it is supposed to bring good luck during the the coming year.

Les papillotes

12 days - papillotesTheses are the chocolates (or candied fruits) wrapped in golden sparking paper with fringed ends. Inside there is a little note written on it. The papillote was created in Lyon at the end of the 18th century. Nowadays they are a delicious French Christmas tradition, sold massively in shops at the end of each year. They usually decorate the Christmas table and are an essential element of Christmas traditions in France. In Toronto, I get mine from a Polish store 🙂

 


Watch the video for pronunciation

 

10-12 days christmas» 12 Days of Christmas GIFT:
If you want to become masterful at French expressions, check out the J’Ouellette® Intensif program. If you register now, you get as a BONUS “Le génie verbale” video collection of all the verbs you need to confidently make conversation in French (a value of $59).

 

 

 

11th Day of Christmas: January 4th

 

 

Joyeuse Fête des Rois

The Day of Three Kings, or the Épiphanie (Epiphany) on January 6th, celebrates the New Year in a unique way. It’s the celebration of the day the three wise men brought gifts to the Christ child.

French families bake la galette des rois, or a Kings’ Cake, and cook inside of it a “lucky charm”, which is typically a small figurine of a king. The person who finds the charm in their slice of cake is crowned King or Queen.

 


Watch the video for pronunciation

 

11-12 days christmas» 12 Days of Christmas GIFT:
If you want to become masterful at French expressions, check out the J’Ouellette® Intensif program. If you register now, you get as a BONUS “Bilingual Express” Audiobook which contains everything you need to practice on the go, so that you confidently make conversation in French (a value of $399).

 

 

 

12th Day of Christmas: January 5th

 

 

La Galette des Rois

La Galette des RoisThe ‘king’s cake’ celebrates l’Epiphanie in France. There are three versions of this cake and the most popular consists of flaky puff pastry layers with a center of frangipane or apple. There is also a sablé galette which has a type of sweet crust pastry and brioche cake with candied fruits and sugar. The cakes are usually sold in special bags with the paper crown for the ‘king’ who finds la fève – a small figure/bean hidden in their piece of cake. Traditionally, it it the youngest in the family who distributes the pieces of cake hiding below the table and shouting the name of the person who should get each piece. Recipe here!

 

 

12-12 days christmas» 12 Days of Christmas GIFT:
If you want to become masterful at French expressions, check out the J’Ouellette® Intensif program. If you register now, you get as a BONUS the program “From Newbie to Oh, là-là !” an 8-week self-study program that helps you get by in your next trip to Paris (a value of $299). Expires January 6th at 11:59pm EST

 

 

 

Immerse yourself as you FINALLY reach your dream of becoming bilingual, learn to speak Parisian French and BREAK your language barrier!

 

Now it is your turn!

Tell us in the comments below, what is YOUR favorite festive greeting or tradition, and what will YOU do to reach your New Year’s resolution?

À la prochaine,
Llyane

 

P.S.

Want to learn French to enjoy Paris?
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master pronunciation, and travel the World,
using the comprehensive J’Ouellette® Intensif


_______________
Llyane Stanfield is a Parisian French language coach, and founder of the J’Ouellette® French Method – an organic method using techniques that are employed by the world’s finest linguists. She travels between Toronto, New York and Paris, while teaching French via Skype in more than 15 countries. She is French language coach for busy traveling professionals, and has produced an unprecedented Intensive Program and PARISIAN FRENCH PRONUNCIATION MASTER CLASS, as well as other visual and teaching materials. She now spends a large portion of her time in Paris, where she also organizes an bi-annual FRENCH IMMERSION RETREAT (the only 1:1 of the kind in the World). Her unique methods produce a quantum leap in confidence and pronunciation, and a short session with her is the perfect start to brush up your French (whatever your level!) at the start of your Paris trip.

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12 Days of Christmas to your New Year’s Resolution (Dec 25 – Jan 5)

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