Twinkling lights, presents, incredible food and lots of singing… Christmas is truly one of the best events of the year! In France, there are lots of Christmas traditions, including Christmas markets and Christmas meals. You can learn all about Christmas in France with Lingoda, but in this article you’ll learn how to say Merry Christmas in French, other useful French vocabulary and learn some of the most popular French Christmas songs!
How to say Merry Christmas in French
There are different ways to say Merry Christmas in French, depending on whether it is a formal or informal situation. Let’s take a look at some examples.
- Joyeux Noël (Merry Christmas)
This is by far the most common phrase used to wish you a Merry Christmas in French. It’s short but sweet! It can also be used as a full sentence:
- Je te souhaite un joyeux Noël (I wish you (singular) a Merry Christmas)
Another popular phrase in French is Joyeuses fêtes (Happy Holidays). This covers the holiday period in general, so includes both Christmas and New Year.
In more formal situations, for example with your boss, you can simply use the above expressions in full sentences, and employ the use of vous.
- Je vous souhaite un joyeux Noël (I wish you a Merry Christmas)
- Je vous souhaite de joyeuses fêtes (I wish you Happy Holidays)
- Je vous souhaite de bonnes fêtes (I wish you Happy Holidays)
If you’re writing a Christmas card, it’s more common to use this expression:
- Meilleurs vœux (Best wishes)
Now that you know how to say Merry Christmas in French, take a look at this table of Christmas vocabulary. It will come in handy if you’re visiting the country during the holiday season.
|Christmas Eve||Le réveillon de Noël|
|Christmas tree||Le sapin de Noël|
|Christmas dinner||Le repas de Noël|
|The Nativity Scene||La crèche de Noël|
|Christmas log||La bûche de Noël|
|Santa Claus||Le père Noël|
|A snowman||Un bonhomme de neige|
|A reindeer||Un renne|
French Christmas songs
You may be surprised to know that many traditional Christmas carols are actually based on French songs or texts. For example, the song “O Holy Night” was based on a text by the French poet Placide Cappeau, and the melody of “Angels We Have Heard on High” was taken from a French song.
Video of Minuit chrétien, French version
Video of Angels we have heard, French version
A popular piece that people sing every year in France at Christmas is “Entre le bœuf et l’âne gris”, one of the oldest Christmas carols of all time! It’s said to be from the 13th century.
Christmas comes but once a year
Now that you know how to say Merry Christmas in French, you can move on to New Year vocabulary and traditions. That way, you’ll be well-prepared for the holiday season in France! Plus, if you want to start a French course, it’s a great period to start as we all write up our New Year’s Resolutions.
Clara Avrillier is a writer, linguist and content manager living in the South of France. She loves getting out in nature, doing sport, reading and playing music. She also works with expats looking to move to France. Connect with her on LinkedIn.