Do you speak Noël? - try our phrases

We have been brainstorming some useful – and some more tongue-in-cheek – expressions related to the festive season

18 December 2014

CHRISTMAS is just a week away so we decided to share some French seasonal expressions – they range from the basic to the more unusual (or tongue-in-cheek!).

How many did you already know? Have you any other suggestions of ones you like? Let us know at: news[at]

Joyeux Noël! – Merry Christmas

Bonnes Fêtes! – Happy Holidays

Meilleurs Vœux ! – Best Wishes

La période de Noël or la période des fêtes – the Christmas season

Le père Noël - Father Christmas

Le jour de Noël – Christmas Day

La veille de Noël – Christmas Eve

Le réveillon de Noël – Christmas Eve celebrations, involving a family dinner in the evening, and, traditionally, going to Midnight Mass

Le réveillon du Nouvel An (or ‘de la Saint-Sylvestre’) – New Year’s Eve celebrations; involves a copious meal and dancing

Le jour de l’An – New Year’s Day

Les étrennes – a New Year’s gift of money to people like the postman, a caretaker, cleaner etc

La carte de Noël (vœux) – the Christmas (greetings) card

Le sapin de Noël - the Christmas tree

Une guirlande électrique (or ‘lumineuse’) – fairy lights

Offrir un cadeau (de Noël) – to give a (Christmas) present

Gueule de bois(‘wooden gob’) – hangover; comes from having a dry mouth due to dehydration (one of the symptoms of having over-indulged)

Une crise de foie (‘liver crisis’) – indigestion from eating and drinking too much

Etre le dindon de la farce (‘to be the turkey of the farce’) – to be duped/conned

Les treize desserts – 13 desserts traditionally served in Provence at the Christmas Eve meal

Cheveux d’ange, boules de Noël, – kinds of Christmas decoration

Noël au balcon, Pâques aux tisons – proverb meaning if it’s warm at Christmas, Easter will be cold

Les Rois Mages – the Three Wise Men

La crêche – crib or manger

Une chaussette de Noël – Christmas stocking

Un enfant pourri gâté – a spoilt-rotten child

Un découvert – an overdraft

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