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What 5 French phrases say about the holidays in France

By Memrise Team

How are the holidays celebrated in France? We like bringing real culture to the videos in our app, so we’ve created a new French Holiday Survival Kit course to show you. Here’s a breakdown of 5 phrases from the course and how they’re used in context:

on passe Noël en famille – we’re spending Christmas with the family

Christmas is a family affair for most. In France, the family usually gathers around an indulgent, multi-dish meal on the evening of the 24th December (called le réveillon de Noël). The 24th isn’t a day off, unfortunately, so it can get a little intense for the hosts! On 25th, it’s quite common to go and visit the rest of the family who wasn’t at dinner, and each house you visit will put on a little spread for you. (As if you were hungry!) Then on 26th, every body’s back at work already! Short, sweet, intense, and looking forward to the next day off!

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pas avant minuit – not before midnight

Midnight is usually the apogee of the Christmas dinner on 24th Dec, it’s also the very much awaited moment to open the presents for the adult and older kids who can stay up that late. Younger kids will have to wait for the morning to open theirs, but don’t worry, they’ll be up veeery early!

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oh, on est sous le gui – oh, we’re under the mistletoe

It’s common for the host of Christmas dinner to hang a branch of mistletoe from the ceiling or in a doorway, and whenever 2 people (or more) stop under it to have a chat, they’re supposed to kiss each other. The kiss (not always French, rest reassured) obviously has to be consented, always!

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pas de foie gras pour moi – no foie gras for me

Foie gras is a kind of pâté made of goose liver and is a very traditional and festive dish in France. However, because of the cruelty of its intensive production, more and more people write it off their Christmas and New Year’s menus. There are so many other delicious options to choose from that you won’t miss out!

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qui veut de la soupe à l’onion ? – who wants some onion soup?

This traditional dish was already popular in Ancient Rome, and it’s no wonder it’s still very popular today: it’s pretty cheap, very filling, and gives you a lot of energy! Perfect at the end or after a tiring, boozy night. It’s quite common to be served this soup in winter evenings, and some even make it a tradition to serve it in New Year’s Eve parties, in the early hours, as a little pick-me-up. Often served with cheese gratiné on top, yum!

Learn this phrase and more now on the Memrise app


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