French Christmas Vocabulary

The most important Christmas vocabulary words are Joyeux Noël (Merry Christmas), le père Noël (Santa Claus) and un sapin de Noël (Christmas tree). This page offers a list of 100+ French Christmas terms covering greetings, decorations, foods and much more. Merci et Joyeux Noël!

Holiday Season

In French, Christmas eve is ‘Le réveillon de Noël’. Le ‘réveillon’ is the eve or night before the holiday. New years eve is ‘Le réveillon du Jour de l’An’. The most common word for Santa Claus is ‘Père Noël’, which means to ‘Father Christmas’. Other common names are ‘Papa Noël’ and ‘Saint Nicolas’.

  • Noël Christmas
  • le vingt-cinq decembre December 25
  • la soirée du 24 décembre Christmas Eve – the evening of December 24
  • les fêtes de fin d’année / la période des fêtes holiday season
  • le réveillon de Noël, la veille de Noël Christmas Eve
  • le Jour de Noël Christmas Day
  • le Père Noël Santa Claus
  • Saint Nicolas Saint Nicolas
  • les traditions de Noël Christmas traditions

Christmas Greetings

Merry Christmas in French is ‘Joyeux Noël’. Joyeux, pronounced jwah-yuh, means both joyous and happy. Another common greeting for the holiday season is ‘Joyeuses Fêtes’ which translates to joyous holidays. The greeting ‘Meilleurs Voeux’ listed below means best wishes and is commonly used on Christmas cards.

  • Joyeux Noël! Merry Christmas!
  • Joyeuses Fêtes / Bonnes Fêtes de Fin d’Année! Happy Holidays!
  • Meilleurs Voeux! Seasons Greetings!

Christmas Tree

Christmas tree in French is ‘un sapin de Noël’. The word ‘sapin’ translates to pine tree or fir tree. While the word ‘arbre’ means tree, it cannot be applied to Christmas trees. Therefore, ‘un arbre de Noël’ is not the correct term. There are several words for Christmas stockings. The French use the term ‘une chaussette de Noël’ while the French-Canadians use the term ‘un bas de Noël’.

  • le sapin de Noël Christmas tree
  • un cadeau de Noël Christmas gift
  • le papier cadeau wrapping paper
  • bauble une boule de Noël, un bibelot Christmas tree bulb
  • un objet décoratif ornament
  • une étoile star
  • un ange angel
  • un santon saint figurine
  • une chaussette de Noël, bas de Noël (Canada) Christmas stocking
  • le sommet du sapin the top of the tree
  • le pied du sapin bottom of the tree
  • une guirlande de Noël Christmas wreath, tinsel
  • un sapin artificiel en plastique fake plastic Christmas tree
  • un sapin naturel a real tree
  • les cheveux d’anges tinsel strands
  • le support du sapin Christmas tree support
  • un cultivateur de sapins Christmas tree grower

Christmas Decorations

A snowman in French is ‘un bonhomme de neige’, which translates literally to a gentleman of snow. The term bonhomme also applies to gingerbread man: ‘un bonhomme de pain d’épice’, or a gentleman of spice bread. In France, a candy cane is ‘un bâton de sucre d’orge’, which translates literally to a stick of barley sugar. In Canada, a candy cane is ‘une canne de bonbon’ or ‘canne de Noël’, which translate to a candy cane or Christmas cane.

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  • les guirlandes électriques extérieures / interieures Christmas lights (outdoor/indoor)
  • une carte de vœux greeting card
  • un bonhomme de neige snowman
  • un ruban ribbon
  • un sucre d’orge candy cane
  • un bonhomme de pain d’épice gingerbread man
  • un bougie candle
  • le gui mistletoe
  • la niege snow
  • une crèche nativity scene
  • un berger shepherd
  • un berceau manger
  • un traîneau sleigh

Christmas Dinner

Many French families enjoy a sumptuous feast on Christmas eve. This festive meal is called ‘le repas de Noel’, or the Christmas meal. The French enjoy eating luxury foods during this meal. Common foods include le fois gras, ‘le saumon fumé’ (smoked salmon) and a chocolate cake called ‘une bûche de Noël’ or Yule log.

  • le repas de Noël, le souper de Noël (Canada) Christmas dinner
  • les huîtres oysters
  • foie gras le foie gras
  • le saumon fumé smoked salmon
  • l’oie (f) goose
  • le pain calendal Christmas loaf
  • le magret de canard duck breast
  • le homard lobster
  • la dinde turkey
  • la farce stuffing
  • la sauce le jus de viande gravy
  • la sauce aux canneberges cranberry sauce
  • le rôti de bœuf, rosbif roast beef
  • le jambon ham
  • les panais parsnips
  • les choux de Bruxelles Brussels sprouts
  • le boudin blanc white pudding
  • la bûche de Noël Yule log
  • le lait de poule egg nog

Historical & Religious Vocabulary

The French often go to church on Christmas for a midnight mass. The church is called l’église and the midnight mass is ‘la messe de minuit’.

  • l’église (f) church
  • le christianisme Christianity
  • la messe de minuit midnight mass
  • l’Évangile de Luc Gospel of Luc
  • le fils de Dieu Son of God
  • l’anniversaire de Jesus Jesus’ birthday
  • la nativité nativity
  • la naissance birth
  • Jésus de Nazareth Jesus of Nazareth
  • la ville de Bethléem The city of Bethlehem
  • le solstice d’hiver winter solstice

Christmas Songs

Singing Christmas songs in French is one of the most fun ways to learn the language. A Christmas carol in French is ‘un chant de Noël’. This page on our site contains five fun Christmas songs in French with French lyrics translated into English.

  • Christmas song un chant de Noël
  • Jingle Bells Vive le Vent
  • Silent Night Douce Nuit
  • Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree Mon Beau Sapin
  • I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas Noël Blanc
  • He is Born, The Divine Child Il Est Né Le Divin Enfant
  • March of the Kings La Marche Des Rois
  • Angels We Have Heard On High Les Anges Dans Nos Campagnes
  • Little Father Christmas Petit Papa Noël

Christmas Verbs

  • croire au Père Noël to believe in Santa Claus
  • fêter Noël to celebrate Christmas
  • échanger les cadeaux to exchange gifts
  • déballer un cadeau to unwrap a gift
  • partager un repas to share a meal
  • jouer avec les jouets to play with the toys
  • aller à l’église to go to church

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