Être aux anges and more French ‘happy’ expressions

For New Year’s Eve, we look at French expressions to use to say you are happy

31 December 2021

Learn French words and expressions you may hear in the news today Pic: The Connexion

New Year’s Eve is known as Saint-Sylvestre in French. Tradition has it that it is bad luck to wish someone ‘bonne année’  (‘happy new year’) before midnight. Instead, you are more likely to hear ‘bonnes fêtes de fin d’année’ (‘happy end of year celebrations’).

The exception to this unwritten rule would be the president, who wishes the population a happy new year in a televised speech on December 31. President Macron is doing just this at 20:00 tonight.

We look at thee expressions that mean to be happy:

Être aux anges (literally ‘to be among the angels’):

This expression suggests a state of complete and prolonged happiness, and has its origins in Christianity.

Back in the day, people believed that the ultimate happiness was found in paradise – or Eden – after death. As only angels would be admitted, the idea of being among angels came to mean to be in paradise, eternally happy.

Heureux comme un roi (literally ‘as happy as a king’):

This expression suggests someone is very happy, although the feeling may be spontaneous or momentary.

Kings, with their wealth and power, represented some of society’s most privileged. However, their happiness could only be temporary due to the problems they would so often face, from invasions to betrayals.

Avoir la banane (literally ‘to have the banana’):

This expression, which was coined in the 20th century, means to be happy. It likely references the shape of the banana, which when turned a certain way will resemble the shape of a smile.

A similar expression to this one is ‘avoir la pêche’ (literally ‘to have the peach’) which means to be in great shape and/or to feel good.

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