French Greetings: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Last Updated: August 29, 2022

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Do you have French friends and family whom you want to greet this holiday season? Or do you simply want to know how to say Merry Christmas and a happy new year in French?

Here in this article, let’s look at the different ways you can wish someone a happy holidays in French. From the most common to the more complicated ones, let’s check it out below.

French Greetings

How to say Merry Christmas in French

Joyeux Noël ! - Merry Christmas!

Just like its English counterpart, Joyeux Noël is the common way to greet someone a Merry Christmas in French. Use it with everyone in your life!

How to say happy holidays in French

Bonnes fêtes de fin d'année ! - Happy Holidays!

“Bonnes fêtes de fin d'année !” literally means, a good end of year celebrations.  Fêtes de fin d'année covers Christmas, New Year, and all the activities that come with it. But you can also use this greeting with people who don’t celebrate Christmas.

If you don’t want to risk alienating someone who doesn’t celebrate Christmas for whatever reason--religious or otherwise--this is the right way to greet them.

This greeting can be used whether in formal or informal scenarios. You can also use it to end your emails before going off to enjoy the holiday season!

Here are a few other ways to say happy holidays in French

  • Bonnes Fêtes !
  • Joyeuses Fêtes !
  • Bonnes et Heureuses Fêtes!

How to greet someone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in French

Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année ! - Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

This simple phrase works for both formal and informal use. Say it to friends and family or with business associates, people on the street, or with the shopkeeper--basically, with everyone.

See also: 54 French Vocabulary and Expressions for the Holiday Season

How to say “season’s greetings” in French

Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année de la part de… - Season's greetings from…

Want a simple greeting for your Christmas cards? Simply say, “Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année de la part de…”

You can affix it on your gift cards and can be used both formally or informally.

How to say happy new year in French

Bonne Année ! - Happy New Year!

When you greet someone for Le Nouvel An, the new year in French, you can simply say, “Bonne Année !“

Meilleurs Voeux ! – A greeting that works all year round

Tired of memorizing different greetings for different occasions? Well, you could just simply memorize one, and that is “Meilleurs Voeux ! “ or “best wishes!”

“Meilleurs Voeux ! “ may be used year-round for different kinds of greetings, such as:

  • To greet someone who recently had a new baby
  • To wish someone the best on his new job
  • To greet a newlywed couple
  • To say “get well soon” to a sick friend
  • A lot more

When December comes, “Meilleurs Voeux ! “ becomes “Season’s greetings” and may be used in greeting cards, emails, and elsewhere. See how versatile it is?

If you want to be more specific with your greeting, you can say, “Meilleurs voeux pour la nouvelle année” or best wishes for the coming year.

You can be even more specific and say, or “best wishes for the year 2019”!You can be even more specific and say, or “best wishes for the year 2019”!
“Meilleurs voeux pour l’année 2019”

When December comes, “Meilleurs Voeux !“ becomes “Season’s greetings” and may be used in greeting cards, emails, and elsewhere. See how versatile it is?

If you want to be more specific with your greeting, you can say, “Meilleurs voeux pour la nouvelle année” or best wishes for the coming year.“Meilleurs voeux pour l’année 2019”

Other ways to greet Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in French

Vœux de Bonheur pour un Joyeux Noël

This is a more advanced Christmas greeting that you can use in cards or holiday messages. It means, “happy wishes for a merry Christmas”. Sounds kinda fancy, doesn’t it?

Je vous souhaite d’excellentes fêtes, et bonne année

Here’s another fancy greeting to step up your Christmas card game. This greeting means: I wish you an excellent holiday season and a happy new year.

Passez un Joyeux Noël en famille

Christmas is often spent with family, so this greeting would sound more specific and authentic. It means “have a happy Christmas with your family” or somewhere along the lines of “enjoy Christmas with your family”.

Bonne année et bonne santé

This greeting means, “happy new year and good health!” You can use this to wish someone not just a happy incoming year, but also offer well wishes to his or her health.

Que l’année 2019 vous procure bonheur, santé et prospérité

This one is even more specific than the previous one. To wish someone happiness, good health, and prosperity, this is the perfect thing to say.


There’s a special kind of magic in the air when the end of the year approaches. To make the season even more special, you need the perfect greetings to say to your loved ones. I hope the greetings listed in this article will help you in the holiday season.

Now that you know how to say Merry Christmas in French, go and great your French friends and loved ones! 

For more related articles, also check out:

Useful French Greetings for All Occasions

5 Popular French Christmas Carols to Bring You Holiday Cheer

French Christmas Songs Playlist to Listen for Free

31 French Movies for Christmas

Traveling to France for the holidays? Grab your copy of this French Phrasebook to help you travel in France with confidence!

Here are some FAQs about French Christmas and New Year

How do you say Merry Christmas in French?

Joyeux Noël !

How do the French celebrate Christmas?

Much like the rest of the world that celebrates Christmas, there is a huge gathering of family and friends on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, to feast (Le Réveillon) and attend church service or mass.

Le sapin de noel, or the Christmas tree, is also decorated ahead of Christmas, and instead of socks, French children put their shoes in front of the fireplace for Père Noël to find and stuff with little treats and gifts. Just like American tradition, these gifts are brought on Christmas Eve and later opened by the children on Christmas Day. 

It’s interesting to note they also hang up mistletoe!

What makes a French Christmas unique?

There are several traditions that make the French Christmas unique, and food is certainly one of them. It depends on the region, but the food can range in meats, from fish to fowl. To name a few, there are smoked salmon and oysters, foie gras, and turkey can be found too, but stuffed with chestnuts.

Fine dining is normal for the feast, with three candlesticks to represent the Trinity. However, a unique French tradition is the knotting of tablecloth ends. This is to prevent the Devil from getting under the table!

Père Noël is another name for the well-loved Father Christmas, but the French have another “Father” who brings punishment. On the naughty list? Saint Nicholas’ partner Père Fouettard will come to give a spanking!

How do you say Happy New Year in French?

Bonne année !

About the author 

Frederic Bibard is the founder of Talk in French, a company that helps french learners to practice and improve their french. Macaron addict. Jacques Audiard fan. You can contact him on Instagram

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