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Archive for the 'French Holidays' Category

Celebrating Whit Monday in France

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The majority of France’s population (around sixty-five percent) identifies as Christian, with most of those Christians being Catholic. Considering the large Christian population, Christian holidays are a big deal here!

In this article, you’ll learn about the Whit Monday holiday in France. We’ll dive into the Whit Monday meaning, explore the most common traditions in France, and go over some important vocabulary you should know.

Let’s get started.

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1. What is Whit Monday in France?

The Shape of a Dove Against the Sun

Whit Monday is a Christian holiday that celebrates the descent of the Saint-Esprit (“Holy Spirit” ) onto Jesus’s disciples. The Holy Spirit’s descent is said to mark the “birthday” of the Christian church. Catholics celebrate this holiday as the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church.

The name of this holiday is thought to stem from Pentecost’s other name (Whit Sunday or Whitsun), with “whit” referring to the white garments worn by those hoping to be baptized. Others speculate that “whit” could refer to the Anglo-Saxon “wit,” which refers to one’s understanding. After all, the Holy Spirit is thought to provide understanding and wisdom to Christians.

Whit Monday in France is a jour férié (“public holiday” ), which means that the majority of businesses are closed. However, due to an unprecedented canicule (“heatwave” ) that took place from 2005 to 2007, many people had to work during this holiday to help provide service de santé (“health services” ) for the older population. Today, Whit Monday is still considered a public holiday, though many French people do end up working.

    → See our vocabulary list on Religion to learn some useful vocab.

2. What Date is Whit Monday This Year?

A Rabbit in an Easter Basket

Whit Monday is a moveable holiday, meaning that its date changes each year according to the Christian calendar and the date of Pâques (“Easter” ). For your convenience, we’ve outlined this holiday’s date for the next ten years.

  • 2020: June 1
  • 2021: May 24
  • 2022: June 6
  • 2023: May 29
  • 2024: May 20
  • 2025: June 9
  • 2026: May 25
  • 2027: May 17
  • 2028: June 5
  • 2029: May 21

3. Whit Monday Traditions & Celebrations

Someone Having Their Baby Baptized

Whit Monday is a time to commemorer (“commemorate” ) the gift of the Holy Spirit, though this holiday doesn’t have quite the same religious connotation as Whit Sunday (Pentecost) does. The Whit Monday holiday is often considered a perfect opportunity for baptême (“baptism” ), with many Christians being baptized for the first time or re-baptized.

In addition to religious celebrations, a common French Whit Monday tradition is to visit with family and friends. This often involves eating a nice meal or going out together. Some people prefer to stay at home and enjoy their time off work, while others engage in outdoor activities if the weather permits.

As mentioned, on Whit Monday, France’s businesses are largely closed, though a few may be open for people’s enjoyment.

4. Shavuot

Shavuot is a major Jewish holiday, and it’s thought that the apostles were in the process of celebrating this holiday when the Holy Spirit descended on them.

During Shavuot, a holiday celebrating the wheat harvest, Jews offer bikkurim (first fruits) at the temple, read the Book of Ruth, and eat dairy products.

5. Must-Know French Vocabulary for Whit Monday

A Cemetery with White Crosses and Purple Flowers

Let’s review the most important words and phrases for Whit Monday in France!

  • Cinquante — “Fifty” [n. masc]
  • Jour — “Day” [n. masc]
  • Religion — “Religion” [n. fem]
  • Service de santé — “Health services” [n.]
  • Jour férié — “Public holiday” [masc]
  • Pâques — “Easter” [fem]
  • Messe — “Mass” [n. fem]
  • Jésus — “Jesus”
  • Commemorer — “Commemorate” [v.]
  • Saint-Esprit — “Holy Spirit” [masc]
  • Apôtre — “Apostle” [n. masc]
  • Venue — “Descent” [n. fem]
  • Baptême — “Baptism” [n. masc]
  • — “Elderly” [adj.]
  • Canicule — “Heatwave” [n.]

If you want to hear the pronunciation of each word and phrase, be sure to visit our French Whit Monday vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed learning about Whit Monday in France with us, and that you took away some valuable cultural information.

Do you celebrate Whit Monday in your country? If so, are traditions there similar or quite different from those in France? We look forward to hearing your answers in the comments.

If you want to continue learning about French culture and the language, FrenchPod101.com has many free resources for you:

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Celebrating Mother’s Day in France

Did you know that people have been celebrating mothers and motherhood for a very long time? After all, what would the world be like without mothers? A lot bleaker than it is already, I imagine!

Like many countries around the world, France has a special holiday set aside to honor one’s mother. In this article, you’ll learn all about Mother’s Day, France’s take on this holiday, and some new vocab.

Let’s get started!

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1. What is Mother’s Day?

Mother’s Day is thought to have originated as far back as Ancient Greece, where the population organized springtime ceremonies for Rhea, the grandmother to the gods (and Zeus’ mother). The Ancient Romans had a similar holiday for celebrating mothers, called Matronalia. What we think of as Mother’s Day today, however, likely originated in the United States when Anna Jarvis publicly commemorated her deceased mother.

In 1929, the French government officially made Mother’s Day a holiday after many years of smaller celebrations throughout the country. The village of Artas refers to itself as the “cradle of Mother’s Day” due to a celebration it held in 1906 for mothers of large families. In 1920, this holiday was recognized, later becoming Mother’s Day as we know it today. In 1941, the Vichy Regime put this holiday on the calendar, and it was set to be the last Sunday of May; this took effect after the war.

In modern times, Mother’s Day is simply a holiday dedicated to honoring one’s mother and showering her with gifts.

2. When is Mother’s Day in France?

Mother’s Day is on a Sunday

Each year, the French celebrate Mother’s Day on the last Sunday in May (unless it falls on the same day as Pentecost, in which case it’s moved to the first Sunday of June). For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s date for the next ten years.

  • 2020: June 7
  • 2021: May 30
  • 2022: May 29
  • 2023: June 4
  • 2024: May 26
  • 2025: May 25
  • 2026: May 31
  • 2027: May 30
  • 2028: May 28
  • 2029: May 27

3. Mother’s Day in France: Traditions & Celebrations

A Little Girl Holding Up a Handmade Mother’s Day Card

The most popular way to celebrate this holiday is by giving Mother’s Day gifts.

Starting from an early age, children make gifts for their mothers by hand; common items include cards and jewelry that were made in school. As children grow older, they may buy their mother things like clothes, perfume, or Mother’s Day flowers. Other popular gifts include chocolat (“chocolate”), a carte de vœux (“greeting card”), or a bon d’achat (“gift certificate”).

In addition, some children may give their mother a petit déjeuner au lit (“breakfast in bed”), and her husband may take the family out for a nice Mother’s Day dinner somewhere.

4. Médaille de la Famille

In France, there’s an honorary medal called the Médaille de la Famille that’s given out to families who have done well in raising a great many children.

Originally, this medal was created in hopes of giving mothers the honor and appreciation they deserve. Later on, however, fathers and other caregivers were allowed to receive this award as well.

5. Must-Know Vocabulary for Mother’s Day in France

A Family Eating Dinner Together

Ready to review some of the vocabulary words from this article? Here are the most important words and phrases for Mother’s Day!

  • Dîner — “Dinner” [n. masc]
  • Dimanche — “Sunday” [n. masc]
  • Chocolat — “Chocolate” [n. masc]
  • Aimer — “Love” [v.]
  • Fille — “Daughter” [n. fem]
  • Fils — “Son” [n. masc]
  • Cadeau — “Present” [n. masc]
  • Rose — “Rose” [n. fem]
  • Mère — “Mother” [n. fem]
  • Célébrer — “Celebrate” [v.]
  • Petit déjeuner au lit — “Breakfast in bed” [masc]
  • Carte de vœux — “Greeting card” [fem]
  • Bon d’achat — “Gift certificate” [n. masc]

To hear the pronunciation of each word and phrase, and to read them alongside relevant images, be sure to check out our French Mother’s Day vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed learning about French Mother’s Day celebrations with us, and that you took away some valuable information from this article.

How do you celebrate Mother’s Day in your country? We’d love to hear from you!

If you would like to learn even more about French culture and the language, FrenchPod101.com has several more great articles for you:

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Wherever you are in your language-learning journey, we want to help you reach your goals with confidence and finesse.

Happy Mother’s Day! 🙂

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Dimanche de Rameaux: Celebrating Palm Sunday in France

Celebrating Palm Sunday in France

Dimanche de Rameaux, or Palm Sunday in France, is a major Christian holiday with many fascinating traditions. In this article, you’ll learn about the story behind Palm Sunday, France’s most common celebrations, and some useful vocabulary.

Let’s get started!

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1. What is Palm Sunday?

On Palm Sunday, exactly one week before Easter (Pâques), Christians celebrate Jesus’ entrée, or “entrance,” into Jerusalem. According to the Bible, people welcomed his arrival by throwing palm branches on the ground he traveled, hence this holiday’s name. Palm Sunday is also the first day of Semaine Sainte, or “Holy Week.”

In France, Palm Sunday is a day strongly associated with plants and other springtime elements, as is true in some other cultures as well. We’ll go more into this later.

2. When is Palm Sunday in France?

A Calendar

The date of Palm Sunday varies each year, along with the dates of Lent and Easter. For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s date for the next ten years:

  • 2020: April 5
  • 2021: March 28
  • 2022: April 10
  • 2023: April 2
  • 2024: March 24
  • 2025: April 13
  • 2026: March 29
  • 2027: March 21
  • 2028: April 9
  • 2029: March 25

3. Palm Sunday Traditions in France

A Man Carrying a Small Bible

Many French Palm Sunday traditions take place throughout the country, and they vary slightly based on region. For example, there are actually two different names for Palm Sunday. In northern France, it’s called Dimanche de Rameaux (“Sunday of Branches”); in southern France, it’s Dimanche de Palmes (“Sunday of Palms”). This is because the climate and weather of northern France are better suited for the growth of box-trees, while southern France has a climate more suited for palms. Some places in France also use olive branches.

On Palm Sunday, French believers go to the church to have their box-tree or palm branches blessed. They then take these branches home to decorate the front door, because some believe this grants God’s protection for the coming year. Some people also use these blessed branches as decorations for loved ones’ graves.

Another common Palm Sunday tradition is the Mass procession. This is when believers gather at one church to have the branches blessed and then proceed together toward a second church (or, if necessary, any other location deemed proper by the church).

4. Ash Wednesday

Each year, the branches that people took home on Palm Sunday are brought back to the church on Ash Wednesday the following year. There, the branches are burned, and the ashes are used to make a cross on the foreheads of believers. This is thought to give them God’s blessing.

5. Essential Palm Sunday Vocabulary

A Photo of Jerusalem

Ready to review some of the vocabulary words from this lesson? Here’s a list of the most important words and phrases for Palm Sunday!

  • Dimanche — “Sunday”
  • Calendrier — “Calendar”
  • Pâques — “Easter”
  • Précéder — “Precede”
  • Entrée — “Entrance”
  • Semaine sainte — “Holy Week”
  • Chrétien — “Christian”
  • Jésus — “Jesus”
  • Jérusalem — “Jerusalem”
  • Mort — “Death”
  • Croix — “Cross”

To hear the pronunciation of each word, and to read them alongside relevant images, be sure to check out our French Palm Sunday vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed learning about Palm Sunday in France with us, and that you took away some valuable cultural information.

Do you celebrate Palm Sunday in your country? If so, do traditions vary from those in France or are they pretty much the same? We look forward to hearing from you in the comments!

If you’re fascinated with French culture and can’t get enough, we recommend that you check out the following pages on FrenchPod101.com:

That should be enough to satisfy your thirst for French cultural knowledge for a little while, but for even more learning resources, create your free lifetime account today. With FrenchPod101.com, you can learn all about French culture and the language, and have fun along the way.

Happy learning!

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Celebrating International Women’s Day in France

Celebrating International Women’s Day in France

International Women’s Day (sometimes referred to as International Working Women’s Day) is an important holiday in France and around the world. It’s a holiday dedicated to promoting women’s rights, fighting for gender equality, and celebrating the achievements of women.

In this article, you’ll learn about the history of International Women’s Day, France’s unique celebrations for it, and more fun facts. Let’s get started!

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1. What is International Women’s Day?

The main focus of International Women’s Day varies from country to country, but there are usually three common threads:

  • Women’s right to vote (droit de vote)
  • Women’s right to work (droit de travail)
  • The promotion of equality (égalité) between genders

It’s also a day to celebrate and honor the many achievements of women over the years!

History of International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day started in 1909, when the Socialist Party of America put together the first observance in New York City. The idea soon spread to Europe—and eventually, to many other countries around the world—through Luise Zietz, Clara Zetkin, and Käte Duncker. In 1911, Europe had its very first International Women’s Day events and celebrations.

For the first few years that International Women’s Day was observed, it largely held onto its socialist roots. Women often marched and demonstrated to promote “feminism” (féminisme) and “women’s rights” (droits des femmes), and the holiday quickly caught on in more socialist or communist countries like China.

2. When is International Women’s Day?

International Women’s Day is on March 8

Each year, International Women’s Day is on March 8.

3. How to Celebrate International Women’s Day in France

A Crowd of Women Cheering

Celebrations and events for International Women’s Day vary, with some countries preferring to keep the theme of women’s rights and feminism, and others giving it a more commercialized spin.

International Women’s Day in France is a major celebration, and people throughout the country observe this holiday. Currently, one of the biggest issues being demonstrated against in France is the wage gap that women experience in the workplace.

In addition to demonstrations, women often receive gifts or special deals for International Women’s Day. These include things like bouquets of flowers, chocolate, and beauty-related products.

4. The Tour de France

A notable demonstration of women’s fight for equality in France is the Tour de France. In particular, there’s a group of women who have been riding the entire Tour de France by the name Donnons des Elles au Vélo Jour -1, which means “Let the girls ride the day before.”

You can read more about this on The Telegraph.

5. Must-Know Vocabulary for International Women’s Day

50/50 Sign on Blackboard Symbolizing Gender Equality

Ready to review some of the French vocabulary words from this article? Here’s a list of the essential words and phrases for International Women’s Day!

  • Manifestation — “Demonstration”
  • Travail — “Work”
  • Planète — “Planet”
  • Victoire — “Victory”
  • Pays — “Country”
  • Continent — “Continent”
  • Fin — “End”
  • Féminisme — “Feminism”
  • Lutte — “Fight”
  • Américain — “American”
  • Européen — “European”
  • Droit de vote — “Right to vote”
  • Droit de travail — “Right to work”
  • Discrimination — “Discrimination”
  • Droits des femmes — “Women’s rights”
  • International — “International”
  • Revendiquer — “Claim”
  • Égalité — “Equality”

To hear the pronunciation of each word, and to read them alongside relevant images, be sure to check out our French International Women’s Day vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed learning about International Women’s Day in France with us! Do you celebrate this holiday in your country? If so, how?

If you’re interested in learning more about France’s unique culture and holidays, check out the following pages on FrenchPod101.com:

Whatever your reasons for developing an interest in French culture or the language, know that FrenchPod101.com is the best way to expand your knowledge and improve your skills. With tons of fun and effective lessons for learners at every level, there’s something for everyone!

Create your free lifetime account today, and start learning with us.

Happy International Women’s Day from the FrenchPod101 family!

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Épiphanie: Celebration of Epiphany in France

Each year, France celebrates the Épiphanie the French way, with lots of great food. In this article, you’ll learn about French Epiphany customs and more facts about the Christian Feast of the Epiphany.

At FrenchPod101.com, it’s our goal to make every aspect of your language-learning journey both fun and informative—starting with this article!

Ready? Let’s dive in.

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1. What is Epiphany Day?

Epiphany (Épiphanie) is a Christian feast that celebrates the visit of the Biblical Magi to the Baby Jesus. However, this feast takes root in pagan celebrations. The word “Epiphany” comes from Greek, and it means “appearance.”

For the Greeks, the epiphanes were gods who made themselves visible to men. To honor them, they observed the Feast of the Twelve Epiphany Gods, who were also called the twelve Olympians. Epiphany also symbolizes the manifestation of light, as the days start to get significantly longer from this day on.

For Christians, Epiphany celebrates the encounter of the three Magi Kings, Gaspard, Melchior, and Balthazar, with the Son of God, Jesus.

2. Date of Epiphany in France

The Magi

Although Epiphany officially falls on January 6, not being a national holiday in France, it falls every year on the second Sunday after Christmas, which is the first Sunday of January.

3. How is Epiphany Celebrated in France?

Epiphany Cake

Celebrating Epiphany Day in France means lots of galette des Rois (“king cake” or “Epiphany cake”)! This is the number-one celebration for Epiphany in France. The name derives from the French words for “Magi” and “king,” which are rois mages and roi, respectively.

The galette des Rois is a round-shaped cake that symbolizes the sun, and that people eat with their family and among friends. According to tradition, king cakes are cut into as many pieces as there are guests, plus one. The latter piece, called the “Good Lord’s Piece,” the “Virgin’s Piece,” or the “Poor Man’s Piece,” was meant for the first poor man who would come to the house.

There are different sorts of galettes des Rois in France. In the North of France, it takes the form of a puff pastry cake that can be eaten with jam or filled with marzipan, chocolate, or even fruit. In the South of France, it’s a brioche with preserved fruits in the shape of a crown. The most famous galette, and the best-selling galette in France, is the one made of puff pastry filled with marzipan.

What’s special about the galette des Rois is that it contains a lucky charm, a little figurine. There are two kinds. Every year, bakeries offer a series of charms based on the same theme. For example, there are figurines representing a French celebrity. The fève, or “lucky charm,” is hidden in the galette, and the person who finds it in their piece becomes a king (roi) or queen (reine) for the day. Traditionally, before eating it, the youngest child in the family would hide under the table and designate which person would get each piece of the galette, and thereby tirer les rois, or “choose the king.”

In France, there are those who collect these charms from galettes des Rois. They’re called fabophiles. They look for rare charms in garage sales, antique markets, and even on the Internet. Some figurines can even cost up to 2,000 euros!

4. Special Epiphany Cake for the President

Do you know what’s special about the galette des Rois made for the President of the French Republic?

For the French President, master pastry chefs make a galette without a charm, so he can’t be crowned. This tradition dates to 1975 when President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing was given a giant galette measuring one meter in diameter.

5. Essential French Vocabulary for Epiphany

A Figurine

Ready to review some of the vocabulary words we went over in this article? Here’s the must-know vocabulary for Epiphany in France!

  • Reine — “Queen”
  • Roi — “King”
  • Épiphanie — “Epiphany”
  • Frangipane — “Frangipane”
  • Figurine — “Figurine”
  • Galette des Rois — “Epiphany cake”
  • Couronne — “Crown”
  • Tirer les rois — “Choose the king”
  • Fève — “Lucky charm”
  • Rois mages — “Magi”

To hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, and to read them alongside relevant images, be sure to check out our French Epiphany vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed learning about the celebration of Epiphany in France with us!

Do you celebrate Epiphany in your country? If so, are traditions similar or very different from those in France? Let us know in the comments; we look forward to hearing from you!

If you’re interested in learning more about French culture, or want some wintery words up your sleeve to get you through the next couple of months, you may find the following pages useful:

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Happy French learning! 🙂

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The French Celebration of Armistice Day

How do the French celebrate Armistice Day, and why?

Armistice Day in French culture is one of the most important and widely celebrated holidays. It commemorates the end of WWI, during which France suffered heavy losses. In this article, you’ll learn about his significant public holiday in France, and about French Armistice Day traditions.

At FrenchPod101.com, we hope to make every aspect of your language-learning journey both fun and informative!

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1. What is Armistice Day?

Cease-Fire Flag

If you know French history, you might know that November 11, 1918, is an important date for French people. In fact, it is a public holiday. This is the date of an armistice, a convention signed by several governments in order to stop combat between their armies. This armistice marked the end of World War I.

World War I was a military conflict that mostly took place in Europe between 1914 and 1918. It was a traumatic war for France, because it was the most heavily affected country, with 1.4-million people dead. It ended when the English, French, and Germans signed the armistice of November 11, 1918.

The last French soldier of WWI, Lazare Ponticelli, died on January 20, 2008, at the age of 110. After his death, it was decided that November 11 should no longer be a commemoration of the soldiers who fought in the First World War, but rather a commemoration of all of the French soldiers who have died during service.

2. French Armistice Day Celebrations & Traditions

A Parade

How do the French mark Armistice Day? What do the French do on Armistice Day?

On each November 11, the President of the French Republic conducts a ritual in order to commemorate this date. He lays a tricolored sheaf in front of the tomb of Georges Clémenceau as a symbol of victory in the Great War. Then, escorted by the Cavalry of the Republican Guard, he goes back up the Champs-Élysées and reviews the troops on Charles-de-Gaulle Square. Finally, he engages in private prayer in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier under the Arc de Triomphe.

Small ceremonies are organized each year in French cities and towns. Usually, they consist of musicians—marching bands, for example—who play some music. French people can go and watch these concerts, which are generally free.

During this public holiday, the President of the Republic wears the Bleuet de France pinned to his buttonhole, as do some other French people. This French flower for Armistice Day symbolizes the support and the solidarity of France to its veterans, widows, and orphans.

3. Brave & Reckless

Do you know what nickname was given to the French soldiers from the First World War?

The French soldiers from the First World War were nicknamed poilus. At the time, the word poilu could mean, in the familiar language, somebody who was courageous and manly. To nickname the French soldiers poilu indicated that they were brave and reckless.

4. Must-Know Vocabulary for Armistice Day in France

Armistice Day Memorial

Here’s the essential vocabulary you should know for Armistice Day in France!

  • Armistice de la Première Guerre mondiale — “Armistice Day”
  • Combat — “Fight”
  • Parade — “Parade”
  • Première Guerre mondiale — “World War I”
  • Trêve — “Truce”
  • Solennel — “Solemn”
  • Tombe du soldat inconnu — “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier”
  • Mémorial — “Memorial”
  • Cessez-le-feu — “Cease-fire”
  • Accord — “Agreement”

To hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, and see them accompanied by relevant images, be sure to visit our French Armistice Day vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed learning about French Armistice Day with us, and that you learned something new. Does your country also have celebrations for the end of World War I? Let us know in the comments!

Learning about a country’s culture may be the most rewarding and entertaining aspect of trying to master its language. If more cultural information is what you’re after, be sure to check out the following pages on FrenchPod101.com:

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Celebrating Assumption Day in France

On Assumption Day, France celebrates the rising of Mary, the mother of Jesus, into Heaven. For this reason, it’s often called Assumption of Mary Day.

The Assumption Holy Day reflects the strong Catholic nature of France, being one of the most popular and heavily celebrated holidays in the country. Even non-Catholics like to participate in the fun, often as a final party before the end of summer.

Learn all about The Assumption of Mary Feast Day with FrenchPod101.com, and become more familiar with French culture as a whole. We hope to make this learning journey both fun and informative!

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1. What is Assumption Day?

Assumption celebrates Jesus’s mother, Mary, rising up to Heaven.

As such, the French also recognize Assumption Day as the name day for those named Mary (the most-given name of the twentieth century in France). Since 1946, this name has been given more than two-million times to little French girls!

But is the Assumption a holy day of obligation? Yes, it is; but if the date happens to fall on a Monday or Saturday of a given year, people are not expected to attend the mass.

2. When is Assumption Day?

Man Holding Bible

The date of Assumption in France holds much historical significance.

In the sixth century, the Byzantine emperor Maurice established the Feast Day of the Virgin Mary in his empire every day on August 15. The holiday was introduced to the West by Pope Theodore in the seventh century, and took the name of Assumption starting the following century.

In 1637, King Louis XIII wanted an heir, so he asked his subjects to make a procession every August 15 in every parish, so that his prayer would be granted. Because King Louis XIII’s request was granted the following year, the holiday on August 15 took on special importance.

3. French Assumption Day Traditions

A Church Building

Every year, religious processions have taken place in certain cities in France. For example, after mass, pilgrims carry a statue of the Virgin Mary in the streets and around the neighborhood. On Assumption Day, Paris hosts a procession that has taken place for a few years, on a boat in the Seine, where the silver statue of the Virgin kept in Notre-Dame is taken out.

Though Assumption is a Catholic holiday, even the non-religious in France celebrate. The most common secular celebrations include fireworks in popular cities and neighborhood dances, most of which are free to attend.

During Assumption, the city of Lourdes experiences its busiest day of the year!

4. The End of Summer…

Assumption Day is often associated with the end of summer and the coming of autumn and winter.

As such, there are many sayings about Assumption Day, such as À la mi-août, adieu les beaux jours (meaning “In mid-August, say goodbye to good weather,” in English) and à la mi-août, l’hiver est en route (meaning “In mid-August, winter is on the way,” in English). Indeed, August 15 also symbolizes a summer well-spent, and the approaching autumn.

5. Useful Vocabulary for Assumption Day in France

Virgin Mary in Stained Glass

Here’s the most important vocabulary you should know to celebrate Assumption Day in France!

  • Église — “Church”
  • Assomption — “Assumption Day”
  • Chrétien — “Christian”
  • Assomption — “Assumption”
  • Croyance — “Belief”
  • Dogme — “Dogma”
  • Célébrer — “Celebrate”
  • Festin — “Feast”
  • Jour férié — “Public holiday”
  • Paradis — “Heaven”
  • Vierge Marie — “Virgin Mary”
  • Mort — “Death”

To hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, check out our French Assumption Day vocabulary list! You’ll also find a relevant image with each word to help you remember more effectively!

Conclusion: How FrenchPod101 Can Help You Master French

We hope you enjoyed learning about Assumption Day in France with us! Does your country have an Assumption Day celebration, too? If so, are traditions similar or very different from those in France? Let us know in the comments!

To continue learning about French culture and the language, explore FrenchPod101.com and take advantage of our fun and effective learning tools! There are many, designed for every type of learner:

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End of the French Revolution: Bastille Day in France

Each year, the French commemorate the end of the French Revolution and the storming of the Bastille fortress. Called Bastille Day everywhere but France itself, this holiday is France’s national day and possibly the most significant public holiday in the country.

By learning about Bastille Day, France’s history and culture will become more clear to you. And as any successful language-learner can tell you, studying culture is a step you can’t miss if you hope to master the beautiful French language.

At FrenchPod101.com, we hope to make this learning experience both fun and effective!

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1. What is Bastille Day?

The nation remembers the storming of the Bastille (otherwise known as the Bastille Day attack) on this holiday, which took place in 1789 during the French Revolution. For this reason, the word Bastille is often associated with our national day, though French people never actually call it “Bastille Day.”

1- The Bastille

Bastille was a fortress and an arsenal destined to defend the East of Paris, which later became a prison by the Cardinal Richelieu.

The storming of this structure on July 14, 1789, symbolizes the French Revolution as a major event of the people’s revolt, the initiation of today’s nation. The first edition of the national day in 1790 was named “the federation party” during this era. It represented the reconciliation of the French by the monarchy constitution under Louis XVI.

The federation party was considered a happy ending to the French Revolution, which lasted ten years with the proclamation of the First Republic under Louis XVI.

Napoléon Bonaparte succeeded him with the establishment of the First Empire at the beginning of the 19th century.

2- Bastille Day History

The true origin of the current national holiday is found in the historic facts of the Republic. It took root with two events at the end of the 19th century.

The first one was the official national day on June 30, 1878, to celebrate the Republic. A painting of Monet exposed in the Museum of Orsay redraws this event in the Montorgueil street situated in the second district. The second celebration unfolded itself July 14, 1879; this one was more popular and semi-official to celebrate the revolution of the French people.

These two marking days resulted in a law proposition in 1880 to establish July 14 as the national day. The senate accepted July 14 to represent the storming of the Bastille Fortress, instead of August 4 to honor the end of the feudal system from the Roman Empire and promoting the strength of the lords by their land.

2. When is Bastille Day?

A Cockade

Bastille Day is celebrated in France each year on July 14.

3. Reading Practice: Bastille Day Celebrations

Decorations for Bastille Day

Do you know how France celebrates its national day? Read the French text below to learn about the Bastille Day parades and other traditions. Check your French reading skills with the English translation directly below it!

Chaque année depuis 1880, a lieu un défilé militaire à Paris, en présence du Président de la République. Les militaires sont à pieds, à cheval, en voiture ou dans des avions. Ils descendent l’avenue des Champs Élysées, la place de l’Étoile et vont jusqu’à la place de la Concorde, où ils saluent le président et son gouvernement. Ce défilé attire des milliers de Français. Ceux qui ne peuvent venir le voir à Paris le regardent à la TV. Les deux chaînes françaises qui diffusent cet évènement attirent des millions de téléspectateurs chaque année.

Le soir, les Français peuvent faire la fête puisque des bals sont organisés dans la plupart des villes. Ils ont le choix car différents styles de bals et de musiques sont proposés au sein même d’une seule ville. A Paris, le bal le plus populaire est le bal des Pompiers. Il est organisé dans la caserne même des pompiers et réunit des personnes de tous les âges, toutes les professions.

Le saviez-vous ? La plupart des Français ignorent que le 14 Juillet célèbre deux évènements. En général, ils pensent que c’est en la mémoire de la prise de la Bastille uniquement ! La Fête de la Fédération reste méconnue, même en France.

Every year since 1880, a military parade has taken place in Paris in front of the President of the Republic. The soldiers are on foot, on horseback, in vehicles, or flying in planes. They go down the Champs Élysées boulevard, the Place de l’Étoile, and all the way to Place de la Concorde, where they salute the President and his government. This parade attracts thousands of French people. Those who cannot come to see it in Paris watch it on TV. The two French channels that broadcast this event draw millions of viewers each year.

At night, the French have an opportunity to party, since dances are organized in most cities. They have a choice, as many different styles of dances and music are offered in each city. In Paris, the most popular dance is the Bal des Pompiers. It is organized in the firefighters’ actual firehouse, and brings people together of all ages and professions.

Did you know? Most French people don’t know that July 14 celebrates two events. In general, they think that it only celebrates the taking of the Bastille. The Fête de la Fédération remains little-known, even in France.

4. Fireworks in France!

On the evening of July 14, French people can see fireworks being set off in most cities. This is a tradition that has existed since the creation of this national holiday in 1880. In Paris, the Trocadéro fireworks alone bring together thousands of visitors.

5. Essential Vocabulary for Bastille Day

Depiction of a Noble

Here’s some vocabulary you should know for Bastille Day in France!

  • Roi — “King”
  • Fête nationale — “Bastille Day”
  • Révolution française — “French Revolution”
  • Cocarde — “Cockade”
  • Bourgeoisie — “Bourgeoisie”
  • Sans-culottes — “Sans-culottes
  • Révolutionnaire — “Revolutionary”
  • Noblesse — “Nobility”
  • Noble — “Noble”
  • Monarchie — “Monarchy”
  • Guillotine — “Guillotine”
  • Prise de la Bastille — “Storming of the Bastille”

To hear each vocabulary word pronounced, check out our French Bastille Day vocabulary list.

Conclusion

We hope you enjoyed learning about Bastille Day and its history with us! Did you learn anything new about France’s national day? What does your country’s national holiday look like? Let us know in the comments! We always look forward to hearing from you.

To continue in your French studies, explore FrenchPod101.com and take advantage of our fun and practical learning tools! Read more insightful blog posts like this one, study free French vocabulary lists on a range of topics, and chat with fellow French learners on our community forums! By upgrading to Premium Plus, you can also start using our MyTeacher program and learn French one-on-one with a French teacher and more personalized plan.

Learning French is a bold endeavor, and one that you’ll never regret. Know that your hard work and determination will pay off, and you’ll be speaking, writing, and reading French like a native before you know it! FrenchPod101 will be here with you each step of your way there.

Happy Bastille Day!

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Fête de la Musique: Celebrating World Music Day in France

In France, ninety-seven percent of French people know about Fête de la musique (“World Music Day”)!

On World Make Music Day (or simply Make Music Day), France celebrates music and encourages anyone and everyone to create music, along with many other countries.

This is the most characteristic aspect of World Music Day: It encourages absolutely everyone to do some music; anyone can sing or play an instrument, alone or in a band, in public spaces. Hence the wide range of styles and talents during the Fête de la musique French festivals.

World Music Day in France is a prime example of how a country’s holidays can reveal what its people hold near to their hearts. And any successful language learner can tell you that comprehending a country’s culture is a necessary step in mastering its language. At FrenchPod101.com, we hope to make this learning journey both fun and informative!

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1. What is Music Day in France?

Though sometimes referred to as the biggest music festival in France, World Music Day is completely different from a music festival. La fête de la musique, also known as “World Music Day,” is the celebration of music and life through free concerts and presentations, mainly outdoors, on the summer solstice each year. This popular manifestation encourages professional and amateurs alike to play instruments on the streets.

The idea of Music Day first appeared in 1976. It was conceived by the American musician Joel Cohen, who worked at the time for the radio station “Radio France” (France Musique). Back then, Cohen was proposing “Musical Saturnalians” for the two solstices, the winter one on December twenty-first and the summer one on June twenty-first.

After the presidential elections of 1981, Maurice Fleuret adopted the idea, which Jack Lang (then Minister of Culture) put in place. It took place for the first time on June 21, 1982, and was officially declared the following year. Music Day immediately met an increasing success, which has spread to this day well beyond the French borders.

2. When is World Music Day?

Musical Notes on a Page

On June 21, France celebrates World Music Day. This is usually on the date of the summer solstice, the perfect time of year for outdoor music fun! As mentioned earlier, the 21 June France celebration date for this holiday was chosen in 1982.

3. World Music Festival: France’s Celebrations

La fête de la musique (meaning “World Music Day”) is such a fun day. Anywhere you go, music is present. On Music Day, France is home to all types of music styles that are represented by young, talented musicians—from newly created bands to professionals making it their way of life. Concerts are organized with elaborate production, and musicians on their own or in small groups play with their instruments on street corners. Everyone performs for free, just for the pleasure of sharing their art.

People who appreciate the music, but aren’t actually playing, enjoy the day by walking through the yards of castles, schools, and town squares to enjoy the performances. The mature public usually appreciate orchestras, choruses, and operas which take place in scheduled places and times in large towns. The younger generations prefer to dance and party till dawn at programmed concerts offered by the city.

Bars and restaurants take on bands and musicians to attract people inside or on their patio. People can also find music playing in prisons, hospitals, airports, and subways.

French bars and restaurants usually have to close a little after midnight. But on Music Day, they’re allowed to stay open much later to welcome the public. Furthermore, the date of the twenty-first most often corresponds with the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. Night falls very late, so French people often use this as an excuse to continue celebrations late into the night!

4. Most Common Musical Instruments in France

A Music Festival

Do you know which musical instrument is played the most by French people?

In France, the most played musical instrument is the guitar, closely followed by the piano. But the piano is the instrument that is most taught in music schools, whereas many people play the guitar as amateurs, without a teacher.

5. Vocabulary You Should Know for World Music Day

Woman Playing an Instrument

Here’s some vocabulary you should know for Music Day in France!

  • Jazz — “Jazz
  • Rue — “Street”
  • Guitare — “Guitar”
  • Violon — “Violin”
  • Concert — “Concert”
  • Musique rock — “Rock music
  • Batterie — “Drums”
  • Festival — “Festival”
  • Fête de la musique — “Music Day”
  • Groupe — “Band”
  • Jouer — “Play”

To hear each vocabulary word pronounced, check out our French Music Day vocabulary list. Here, you’ll find each word alongside an audio file of its pronunciation.

Conclusion

Did you know about World Music Day before reading this article? Does your country have elaborate celebrations for Music Day like France does? Let us know in the comments!

To learn more about the culture in France and the French language, visit us at FrenchPod101.com. We provide practical learning tools for every learner to ensure that anyone can master French! Read more insightful blog posts like this one, study up with our free French vocabulary lists, and chat with fellow French students on our community forums! By upgrading to Premium Plus, you can also begin learning French one-on-one with your own personal teacher through our MyTeacher program.

Learning a new language, and absorbing the culture around it, is no easy task. But it’s well worth the effort and determination you put into it! And FrenchPod101 will be here with you for each step of your journey to mastery.

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Fête de Voisins: Celebrating National Neighbor Day in France

National Neighbor Day in France (or Fête de Voisins as voisin is “neighbor” in French) is a day for people to spend time with their neighbors, usually in the form of a party. This is a significant concept in a world that’s becoming more and more adapted to life on the screen, and where people are spending less face time with each other. It can be difficult to even muster a “hello” to fellow neighbors these days!

On Neighbor’s Day, France encourages its people to get together, socialize, and just appreciate each other. It’s such a revolutionary type of holiday that other places around the world are beginning to celebrate it too (resulting in a European Neighbor’s Day).

At FrenchPod101, we hope to clue you in on what to expect should you receive a Fête de Voisins invitation, and teach you all about the origins of Neighbor’s Day in France. We hope to make this learning journey both fun and informative!

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1. What is Neighbor’s Day (Europe)?

Neighbor’s Day, also called Immeubles en fête (“Building Festival”), is an originally French holiday. Its goal is to let neighbors meet each other in a friendly way, and is the initiative of a Parisian non-profit association.

This idea was born in 1990 when a group of friends created the association Paris d’amis (“Paris of Friends”) in the seventeenth district of the French capital. They wanted to strengthen the ties of proximity between inhabitants in the neighborhood and thereby fight isolation.

The association then carried out numerous projects with this goal, such as a sponsorship service for neighbors with hardships.

In 1999, the association launched Neighbor’s Day in the seventeenth district of Paris. And its success was immediate because 800 buildings participated, mobilizing more than 10,000 inhabitants!

2. When is Neighbor’s Day in France?

Flat Apartment

The date of Neighbor’s Day varies each year, though it is always the last Friday of May or the first Friday in June. In 2019, it will take place on May 31.

3. Reading Practice: How Does France Celebrate Neighbor’s Day?

Neighbor's Getting Together For a Meal

Learn how Neighbor’s Day is celebrated in France by reading the French text below! You can find the English translation directly below it.

Le principe est simple—une fête est organisée dans un immeuble, une maison, un jardin…Tout le monde est libre d’organiser cette fête et d’ y participer ! Chaque participant peut amener à boire ou à manger.

Cette initiative permet de rencontrer ses voisins et de mieux connaître les personnes qui habitent le quartier.

Cet évènement français a maintenant dépassé les frontières de son pays d’origine, d’abord avec l’extension de la fête à la Belgique et 10 autres villes européennes en 2003, puis avec l’organisation de la Journée européenne des voisins en 2004, qui se déroule dans plus de 150 villes d’Europe, et au-delà avec le Canada, la Turquie et l’Azerbaïdjan.

Il existe un film français à propos de la fête des voisins ! Réalisé en 2010 par David Haddad, ce film narre l’histoire de Pierrot, gardien qui organise cette fête dans son immeuble. Il s’intitule “La Fête des voisins.”

The principle is simple—a party is organized in a building, house, garden, and so on. Everyone is free to organize the party and to participate in it! Each participant can bring something to drink or eat.

This initiative lets neighbors meet and to get to know people who live in the neighborhood better.

This French event has now crossed the borders of its home country, first with the extension of the holiday into Belgium and ten other European cities in 2003. Then, with the organization of European Neighbor’s Day in 2004, which takes place in more than 150 cities in Europe and beyond in Canada, Turkey, and Azerbaijan.

There is a French film about Neighbor’s Day! Released in 2010 and directed by David Haddad, the film tells the story of Pierrot, a security guard who organizes a party in his building. It’s called “La Fête des voisins.”

4. Three Largest Cities in France

Do you know which are the three biggest cities in France?

The three biggest cities in France are Paris, Marseille, and Lyon. Just these three cities alone house more than three-million people. That’s a lot of neighbors to invite over!

5. Useful Vocabulary for National Neighbor Day in France

Real Estate Sign

Here’s some vocabulary you should know for Neighbor’s Day in France!

  • Maison — “House
  • Rue — “Street”
  • Étage — “Floor”
  • Voisine — “Neighbor”
  • Fête des voisins — “Neighbor’s Day”
  • Appartement — “Flat”
  • Digicode — “Digital lock”
  • Immobilier — “Real estate”
  • Quartier — “Neighborhood”
  • Lotissement — “Housing estate”

To hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, check out our Neighbor’s Day vocabulary list. Here, you’ll find each word accompanied by an audio file of its pronunciation.

Conclusion

What do you think of the idea behind France’s Neighbors’ Day? Does your country have a similar holiday (such as National Good Neighbor Day)? And if not, do you wish it did? Let us know in the comments!

To continue learning about France’s history, culture, and language, visit us at FrenchPod101.com! We have something here for every learner, making it possible for anyone to master French! Find insightful blog posts like this one, free vocabulary lists, and an online forum where you can chat with fellow French students. You can also take advantage of our MyTeacher program by creating a Premium Plus account, to learn French one-on-one with your own personal French teacher.

Until next time, hang in there, keep your determination fueled, and say hi to your neighbors for us!

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