The Language Nook – Le coin langues

English & French words for the Holiday Season

Christmas & New Year celebrations: the words you need in English and in French

by | 9 Dec 2017 | English-French Vocabulary


When comes December and the end of the year, the tradition in most French and English-speaking countries sees everyone get ready for the Holiday Season.

Like many other learners of English or French, you may already know how to say Christmas and New Year in both languages, but do you know the words to talk about the night immediately before Christmas and New Year’s Day?


  The Holiday Season   les fêtes de fin d’année
  Christmas Season   la période de Noël
  Christmas Eve   le réveillon de Noël
  Christmas, Xmas   Noël
  Boxing Day (U.K.*)   le lendemain de Noël
  New Year’s Eve   le réveillon du nouvel an
  New Year’s Day   le jour de l’an

* UK and countries that were part of the British Empire


Boxing Day is a bank holiday that is only celebrated in the United Kingdom and the countries that were part of the British Empire. It takes place on the 26th December and is the opportunity to see those you couldn’t see on Xmas day.


In English, you can also refer to the Holiday Season with other phrases such as Christmas time, Christmastide, the Christmas holidays or just the holidays in American English.

In French, you may just hear les fêtes when talking about les fêtes de fin d’année. Usually the context makes it clear what fêtes (festivities) people are talking about.


So, in the first weeks of December, you will hear people ask:

  • Tu rentres chez toi pour les fêtes (de fin d’année) ?
  • Are you going home for the (Christmas) holidays?

The words in brackets can be included or left out without changing the meaning at all.


And you, what are you plans? What are doing on Christmas Day?

And, as Frank Loesser’s song goes: What are you doing New Year’s Eve?

This song was recorded by a great number of artists. Ella Fitzgerald was one of them. Listen to her using this sentence.

You can read the lyrics below.



There you are! You can now name the important moments of the holiday season. Congratulations! 🙂


What are you doing New Year’s Eve – Lyrics (by Frank Henry Loesser)

When the bells all ring and the horns all blow

And the couples we know are fondly kissing

Will I be with you or will I be among the missing?


Maybe it’s much too early in the game

Ah, but I thought I’d ask you just the same

What are you doing New Year’s, New Year’s Eve?


Wonder whose arms will hold you good and tight

When it’s exactly twelve o’clock that night

Welcoming in the New Year, New Year’s Eve


Maybe I’m crazy to suppose

I’d ever be the one you chose

Out of the thousand invitations you received


Ah, but in case I stand one little chance

Here comes the jackpot question in advance

What are you doing New Year’s, New Year’s Eve?


Ah, but in case I stand one little chance

Here comes the jackpot question in advance

What are you doing New Year’s, New Year’s Eve?

Oh, what are you doing New Year’s, New Year’s Eve?



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  1. Marianne

    Bonjour Yolaine

    Your posts are always very interesting, Thank you

    In the Netherlands, the 26th December is the second Christmas day and is also a bank holiday. We call it ” tweede kerstdag ”

    I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New year


    • Yolaine Bodin

      Thank you for your comment Marianne! Good to know that Boxing Day also exists in the Netherlands, I didn’t know at all.
      Happy Holiday Season to you!


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