french for happy new year

French for Happy New Year: 34 Phrases for Toasting and Celebrating French-Style

3, 2, 1, happy New Year!

Sparkling wine, glamorous parties, midnight kisses…

It’s not hard to see why the New Year is one of the most widely celebrated holidays around the world.

For some added fun and flair, why not learn a bit of French too for your New Year’s celebrations?

We’ll show you essential phrases in French for “Happy New Year” and other typical holiday wishes, along with vocabulary to celebrate like the French do and even set your New Year’s resolutions in French.

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French for “Happy New Year” and Other Essential Phrases

Bonne année !  Happy New Year

Le réveillon de la Saint-Sylvestre  New Year’s Eve

Le réveillon de la Saint-Sylvestre literally translates to “The Eve of Saint Sylvester” and refers to the feast day for this Catholic saint and former Pope. Sometimes, the phrase is shortened simply to la Saint-Sylvestre  (Saint Sylvester). The French refer to the feast day when talking about New Year’s Eve.

There’s another non-religious term for New Year’s Eve as well, which is le réveillon  (evening party/feast) or le réveillon du premier de l’an  (the evening party/feast for the first of the year). These phrases can be used to refer to either New Year’s Eve night or even New Year’s Eve dinner.

Here are two example sentences:

Il y a un réveillon chez moi pour la nouvelle année.
There is an evening dinner party/feast at my house for the New Year.

On va passer le réveillon du premier de l’an ensemble.
We’re going to spend New Year’s Eve together.

Le jour de l’an  New Year’s Day

You can also say le Nouvel An  (the New Year).

Minuit  Midnight

Le 31 décembre  December 31st

Let me take this opportunity to remind you that months are not capitalized in French!

Le premier janvier January 1st

Compter To count

While le compte à rebours  is French for “countdown,” or “counting backward,” it’s more common to simply say something along the lines of on compte les secondes avant la nouvelle année  (we count the seconds before the New Year).

La fin d’année The end of the year

Meilleurs vœux Best wishes

You could also add to this statement by saying meilleurs vœux pour la nouvelle année  (best wishes for the New Year).

Joyeuses fêtes ! Happy Holidays!

While joyeuses fêtes can be used for any holiday, you can also say bonnes fêtes de fin d’année  which literally translates to “Happy end-of-the-year holidays.”

As a side note, all of the above four phrases—meilleurs vœux, meilleurs vœux pour la nouvelle année, joyeuses fêtes and bonnes fêtes de fin d’année—could be used on holiday cards in place of the popular English phrase “Season’s Greetings.”

Words for Your French New Year’s Celebrations

La fête Party

Célébrer / Fêter To celebrate

While célébrer literally means “to celebrate,” it’s pretty much interchangeable with fêter, which would more literally mean, “to party.”

Danser To dance

Les confettis Confetti

Le karaoké Karaoke

La musique Music

Les amis / amies Friends

Don’t forget to add the “e” if you need to make the word feminine to talk about an all-female group of friends.

Les feux d’artifice Fireworks

The literal translation is “artificial fire.” French sure is poetic, isn’t it!

Le gui Mistletoe

You may associate mistletoe more with Christmas than any other holiday, but in France, it’s quite common to kiss under the mistletoe during New Year’s festivities as well.

S’embrasser To kiss

This is just one of the many ways you can talk about kissing in French. You can also say faire une bise à or donner un bisou à  which both mean “to give a kiss to someone.” 

I recommend one of these other sayings if you want to imply a simple peck or friendly kiss. Otherwise, reserve s’embrasser for when you share a more passionate kiss with your significant other.

Le champagne Champagne

Un toast To toast

Un toast is an anglicism, meaning the French adopted the noun from English.

However, in order to talk about the act of toasting someone, you need to use either porter un toast  (to propose a toast) or lever son verre à (to raise your glass to someone).

Boire To drink

New Year’s Resolutions in French

Perdre du poids To lose weight

Manger plus sainement To eat healthier

As a side note, la santé  means “health,” and the phrase en bonne santé  means “healthy,” or more literally “in good health.”

Faire plus d’exercice To exercise more

Remember that there’s no verb in French that means “to exercise.” Rather, you need to use the whole phrase above, which literally translates to “to do more exercise.”

You can also use the phrase faire du sport  (to do sport). Note that the word faire (to do/to make) is used rather than the verb jouer  (to play) when talking about sports in French.

Obtenir une promotion To get a promotion

Changer de travail To change jobs

Économiser de l’argent To save money

There’s another way to talk about money in French, which can be especially useful when discussing saving for something specific. The phrase is mettre de côté  (to put aside).

For example, you could say, Je mets de côté une somme suffisante pour acheter un nouvel appartement. (I’m putting aside a sufficient sum in order to buy a new apartment.)

The English translation may sound a bit formal to your ear at first, but it’s perfectly standard to use this construction in French.

Passer plus de temps en famille To spend more time with family

Notice the use of the preposition en  (in) in this phrase. It’s not the same as its English equivalent, which uses the preposition “with” ( avec  in French).

Se faire de nouveaux amis / Se faire de nouvelles amies  To make new friends

Apprendre une nouvelle compétence To learn a new skill

Être plus social / sociale  To be more outgoing

Prendre un nouveau passe-temps To take up a new hobby

While this is probably the most commonly used phrase in French, some people do replace passe-temps  (pastime) with the English word “hobby.” In other words, the anglicism is also used.

Here’s an example:

J’ai besoin de trouver un autre hobby. (I need to find another hobby.)

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Where to Get a Taste of the French New Year

If you’re looking for a fun way to incorporate French into your New Year’s celebrations, there are many ways to do so from the comfort of your own home.

For starters, you can improve your reading skills with some New Year’s themed poems. Believe it or not, there are tons of them online, and my personal favorite sites on which to find them are Dico-Citations and Mon Poème (My Poem).

Or, if you’re more of an auditory learner, try listening to Lokassa Ya M’bongo’s famous New Year song called “Bonne année” (“Happy New Year”). 

For those of you who love comedy and enjoy watching videos on YouTube, check out this hilarious video from online comedian Hassan.

He parodies what the New Year is really like and talks about expectations versus reality. A word of warning that there’s the occasional French swear word, but really you can’t beat learning French New Year’s vocabulary through funny videos!

 

You’re officially ready to celebrate the New Year in true French fashion. Meilleurs voeux pour la nouvelle année!

And one more thing...

If you like learning French on your own time and from the comfort of your smart device, then I'd be remiss to not tell you about FluentU.

FluentU has a wide variety of great content, like interviews, documentary excerpts and web series, as you can see here:

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