Frost in Translation: Christmas Phrases for International To-Be-Weds

If you’re spending Christmas with the new in-laws-to-be, you may want to familiarise yourself with any festive cultural differences and brush up on a few key phrases to ensure there’s no frost in your translation. Our friends at Babbel, the language learning app, have put together a useful guide to help us avoid cheek-burning miscommunications.

50px french flag - Frost in Translation: Christmas Phrases for International To-Be-Weds France

Le Réveillon – for French families, Christmas begins on the 24th December with Le Réveillon – a sumptuous, multi-course meal which lasts until midnight. Just be careful not to over-indulge as you’ll be expected to feast all over again on Christmas Day feast.

Save the day vocab:

  1. Joyeux Noël – Merry Christmas!
  2. Bûche de Noël – special dish (traditionally a yule log)
  3. Merci beaucoup pour le cadeau – je l’adore! – Thanks very much for the present – I love it!
  4. Ce gâteau est délicieux! C’est vous qui l’avez fait? – This cake is delicious! Did you make it?

50px spanish flag - Frost in Translation: Christmas Phrases for International To-Be-Weds  Spain

Los Reyes Magos – Catholicism is the main religion in Spain and plays a large part in family celebrations with many following the tradition of the Reyes Magos (three wise men). It’s the three wise men that deliver gifts to children who leave their shoes outside their front door on the 5th of January (the night before Epiphany).

Save the day vocab:

  1. Feliz Navidad – merry Christmas
  2. Roscón de reyes – a special dish, traditionally a symbolic cake in which both a white bean and a king are hidden. The lucky finder of the king will be ‘king for the day’ whilst the not so lucky recipient of the white bean must pay for the cake!
  3. Me encanta su casa; iLa decoración de Navidad es preciosa! – I love your house; your Christmas decorations are so lovely!
  4. Este postre está muy rico ¿podría darme la receta? – This dessert is delicious, could you give me the recipe?


50px german flag - Frost in Translation: Christmas Phrases for International To-Be-Weds  Germany

Der Tannenbaum – apparently decorating a fir tree (der tannenbaum) originated in Germany. Traditionally, however, the der tannenbaum isn’t decorated until Christmas Eve and stays up until 6th of January (known as the holy three kings day), when children ransack its branches for all the sweets and nuts it’s been decorated with. Yum, yum.

Save the day vocab:

  1. Frohe Weihnachten – merry Christmas
  2. Lebkuchen – a special dish, traditionally gingerbread hearts or stars
  3. Dein Weihnachtsbaum sieht wunderschön aus! Er ist der schönste, den ich dieses Jahr gesehen habe! – Your Christmas tree looks beautiful! It’s by far the best I’ve seen this season!
  4. Vielen Dank für das leckere Essen. Darf ich Ihnen beim Aufräumen helfen? – Thank you so much for this wonderful meal. Can I help clear the table?

Want to learn a bit more seasonal lingo? Try some bite-sized lessons in up to 14 different languages, with Babbel.

Photography Credits Jennifer Bedlow Photography

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