Bonne fête ! Happy Name Day!

Did you know that in France, every day of the year has one or more saint’s name(s) assigned to it?

The custom originated with the Christian calendar of saints. In the past, a child would be named (either first name or middle name) after the name of the catholic saint of the day when they were born.  Every day of the calendar has a saint’s name or more assigned to it.

Today, it is still traditional to mark the day by giving a small present or to just say « Bonne fête! ». My saint/name day is on the 11th of May and living in Australia today where this is not a custom, I must say I do miss this little custom and still love receiving presents from France on that occasion and love people remembering it and sending me messages! Any excuse for presents is a good excuse I say!

So let’s go back to our calendar! For example, on the 25th of April, we celebrate the Marcs (La Saint-Marc). If referring to the saint’s day, you use the feminine and a hyphen as opposed to referring to the saint himself (le saint Marc or Saint Marc).
The French are reminded of the saint that is celebrated the following day at the end of the evening news (Le journal), after the weather forecast. Several expressions can be used, such as: « Demain, nous souhaiterons la bonne fête à tous les Maxime ! or Demain, nous fêterons les Maxime, or Demain, nous serons la Saint-Maxime ».

Note however that if you hear someone telling you « Ça va être ta fête! », they might actually be threatening you!!! (see vocabulary section below).

Every year, La Poste prints their own calendar named L’Almanach du facteur* (= the postman’s calendar) or Almanach des Postes (since 1810).
It is a French tradition for the postman to come to your door at the end of the year to sell a copy of next year’s calendar: there are various styles and versions to choose from and you give whatever you want (it is an opportunity to say thank you for the postman’s services and possibly improve them if generous!) and is part of « les étrennes » (New Year’s gift; Christmas box given to private and public workers such as rubbish collectors, firefighters and postmen/postwomen) .
As an average, the postmen/postwomen get €10 per calendar and can sell up to 600 copies. Between 15 and 18 million calendars are sold every year!

Want to see what day is your name day? Click on the links below:

https://www.behindthename.com/namedays/country/france

 

Vocabulary

Un almanach (pronounced [almana]) : « Calendrier accompagné d’observations astronomiques, de prévisions météorologiques, de conseils pratiques relatifs aux travaux à faire selon la saison » (Le nouveau Petit Robert, 2010) = an almanac
Une éphéméride : « Ouvrage indiquant pour l’année à venir les évènements astronomiques ou météorologiques sujets à calcul et à prévisions ; Calendrier dont on détache chaque jour une feuille » (Le nouveau Petit Robert, 2010) = ephemeris ; tear-off calendar.
*Un facteur / Une factrice = A postman / A postwoman
P&T = Postes et Télégraphes

Expressions

Bonne fête ! Happy name day!
Ça va être ta fête! You’ve got it coming to you!
Attendre jusqu’à la saint-glinglin To wait forever
C’est une sainte nitouche She looks as if butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth!
La Saint-Sylvestre New Year’s Eve

 

 

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La bise 101

 

Most people know or have heard of “la bise” as a French form of greeting. But what is “la bise” exactly and most importantly, how does it work? If you are one of the many people left discombobulated by the mysterious Gallic custom, read ahead!

First things first, who on earth came up with such a silly idea?

Well, apparently, it is all the Romans’ fault as they would be the ones who started this curious business! They used to have three different types of kisses: the romantic kiss (saevium), the religious or friendly kiss (osculum) and finally the greeting kiss (basium – word at the origin of the French word “bise”) which they would use in a very similar manner the French do today.

And though kissing was actually banned in France during the Plague for obvious health and safety reasons, the “bise” resurfaced during WW1 to never leave again!

These days, “faire la bise” is pretty much a social convention.

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Le retour des bons points !!!

Ah les bons points, que de bons souvenirs….

C’était le siècle dernier (eh oui, cela ne nous rajeunit pas), mais comme je les attendais avec impatience ces bons points quand j’étais à  l’école primaire. Même s’il est vrai que je passais plus de temps sous le bureau de la maîtresse qu’à trier ma collection de points, je me souviens encore du bonheur procuré par ces petites images sans prétention ! Une simple vache dans un pré ou un chaton coquin, aucun texte, mais la fierté de l’obtenir n’avait aucun équivalent!

Et je me rends compte en enseignant le français à des élèves de l’école primaire, que la carotte, mes amis, ça fonctionne toujours! J’aime pouvoir récompenser et encourager mes élèves et surtout je préfère célébrer les réussites plutôt que de sanctionner les erreurs. Et le côté ludique des bons points me semble convenir parfaitement à l’âge des apprenants.

Et plutôt que d’essayer de trouver un fournisseur local (eh oui, je suis en Australie!!), j’ai découvert qu’il était possible de tout simplement créer ses propres bons points. Tout ce dont vous avez besoin est d’un ordinateur, d’Internet, de Word, d’une imprimante et si possible d’une plastifieuse!

Et pour vous faciliter encore plus la tâche, il y a de nombreux modèles prêts à l’emploi en ligne.

Vous trouverez ci-dessous mes préférés: Continue reading

40 useful French text message abbreviations

Texting

Call me old(-fashioned) but I just cannot get into abbreviating what I type! So, yes, it takes me for-e-ver….

When I see my kids’ texts, I am just amazed at this whole new language they seem to be using with such ease!

And I feel very very old(-fashioned)…

So here is a list of common French text abbreviations you (and I) might find useful:

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11 useful websites to learn/teach French!

 

Learn French

Whether you are learning French or teaching the “langue de Molière”, you probably have found yourself in the situation of trying to find some cool and useful websites to assist you with your French.
And if you indeed have, then you probably know how frustrating this process can be!! So many places to look, so little time, right?

So in order to save you some precious time, I have put together a list of some of my favourite sites, for all levels.

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2015 French new words – Les nouveaux mots français 2015

Le Petit Larousse et Le Petit Robert sont deux des dictionnaires français les plus populaires.
The Petit Larousse and Petit Robert are two of the most popular French dictionaries.

PetitRobert

Le Petit Robert 2016

Larousse2016

Le Petit Larousse 2016

 

Comme chaque année, ces dictionnaires ont accueilli des centaines de nouveaux mots et nouvelles expressions.
Like every other year, these dictionaries have welcomed hundreds of new words and expressions.

Et comme les néologismes font partie de mes marottes, c’est avec grand plaisir que je partage avec vous la liste de mes néologismes préférés de l’année 2015!
And as I love neologisms,  I am delighted to share with you a list of my favourite latest year 2015 French neologisms!

Adulescent : nom masculin ; jeunes adultes dont le comportement rappelle celui des adolescents. Contraction de “adulte” et “adolescent”. Continue reading

Understanding the ASSIMIL method – Comprendre la méthode ASSIMIL

Did you know that the first ever ASSIMIL method was published in 1929, a mere 86 years ago?

My tailor is rich

ASSIMIL is a French company that was founded by Alphonse Chérel in 1929. The company creates and published many language courses.
With its first “sans peine” collection, the ASSIMIL method became successful thanks to its funny everyday life type dialogues using intuitive learning.
First, the learner focuses on oral comprehension and listens to dialogues that are translated and repeated. This phase is known as the passive phase.
The active phase consists in intuitively reproducing what has been learnt “passively”. The key of its success being repetition and the use of authentic and quality humorous dialogues.
A good old teaching method that is working!

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