French Vocabulary for Ringing in the New Year

French Vocabulary for Ringing in the New Year

Much like the USA, France rings in each new year with a bang. However, there are a few uniquenesses that French people maintain as customary. Did you know that New Year's Eve is also called 'La fête de la Saint Sylvestre' in honor of Pope Saint Sylvester I? Or that one common tradition includes kissing under the mistletoe? Take a look at some fun French facts below including important vocab to know for the celebration. Bonne Année!

The New Year's Tradition

Each year a big festival is organized across France called 'le Réveillon de Saint-Sylvestre' to honor Pope Saint Sylvester on December 31st. During this evening time feast, guests enjoy traditional dishes like Blinis with duck foie-gras and champagne. More recently, the French have been enjoying this celebration on a boat cruise to ring in the new year in the middle of the ocean or sea for a romantic and extraordinary experience. In Paris, a huge parade is organized on New Years Eve day in which performers march through a procession that ends at the Trocadéro, under the Eiffel Tower. At the stroke of midnight, fireworks light up the sky across Paris.

By Yann Caradec from Paris, France (Fireworks on Eiffel Tower) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Yann Caradec from Paris, France (Fireworks on Eiffel Tower) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The Countdown

The mistletoe (or le guy - pronounced like 'lay gee') is one very popular spot to be standing under during the countdown to midnight. This special zone is spent smooching a loved one as the new year approaches. If you are celebrating at a friend's home or a quant bar, le guy might be easier to find. Otherwise, if you find yourself at a nightclub (or boîte de nuit) dancing the night way, you might be more focused on clinking your glass and saying Bonne Année (Happy New Year) or Santé (Health or Cheers) with champagne as midnight approaches. Small paper balls (or des cotillons) might fall from the sky and crowds of people would clap and make loud noises.


Much of the celebrating is done with offering kind words and good wishes for a positive new year. Below are some common phrases and their meanings:

Bonne année et bonne santé! = Happy new year and good health!

Bonne Année! = Happy New Year!

Bonne année deux mille seize! = Happy 2016!

Le jour de l'an = New Year's day

Une bonne résolution = New Year's resolution

Le repas du Novel An - New Year's meal

I hope you enjoyed reading The Best French Vocabulary for New Years in France! Bonne année et bonne santé pour deux mille seize! If one of your New Year's resolutions is to learn French, make sure to visit our schedule in 2016 to sign up for Group French Classes and Private French Lessons at JP Linguistics. Bonne journée!