Un cadeau* Posted by on Dec 20, 2016 in Culture, Film, Vocabulary

12 years ago when I was a French teacher, le mois de décembre (the month of December) presented a special challenge. As the winter break and les fêtes de fin d’année (year end holidays) approached, keeping kids focused on lessons and learning became more and more difficult. Especially in the last week before les vacances** (vacation), anything ressembling real work became pretty much impossible. What was a teacher to do?

One easy trick: hide the work in a fun activity! To that end, I created a word search that featured holiday and winter-related vocabulary. If you’d like to take a shot at it yourself, you can click here to save the holiday word search to your computer. If you look hard enough, you can find all of the following French terms in the grid.

bonhomme de neige snowman gui mistletoe
Père Noël Father Christmas / Santa gâteaux cakes
flocons de neige snow flakes houx holly
Christmas guirlande garland
sled / sleigh cloche bell
sapin pine / Christmas tree décorations decorations
cadeaux gifts décembre December
Réveillon Christmas Eve celebration renne reindeer
bougies candles amour love
froid cold champagne Champagne
hiver winter buche de Noel Yule Log
foie gras goose liver santons  
joie joy étoile star
cheminée chimney ange angel
jouets toys vœux wishes

La semaine dernière (Last week) I shared one of my favorite French “holiday” movies with you. I realized afterwards that I had neglected to mention two other “classics” that are equally great at this time of year despite a decidely “non traditional” take on winter and the holidays. Both come from the crazy minds of the creaters of le Théâtre du Splendid (sort of a French “Second City” created by a group of friends in the 70’s who went on to great success in French entertainment). If you’re still looking for some entertainment . . . or the perfect gift for that one wacky francophile friend . . . might I suggest Le père Noël est un ordure (Santa Claus is a jerk) and Les bronzés font du ski (litterally “The tan ones go skiing”).

* A gift

** Note that “les vacances” is always plural in French . . . perhaps because they have so much of it! The word “vacance” (singular) refers to a vacancy and was originally specific to the absence of a king or the Pope. In more general terms it came to refer to the period when a legislative body was away from its functions and ulitmately to any absence from work . . . but always now in the plural to refer to a period of time away from work or school.

Photo Credits:

Swowman By Peter Berger, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Father Christmas / Santa Claus By dierk schaefer (Straßburg/Père Noel  Uploaded by Edelseider) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Snowflake By Electron and Confocal Microscopy Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, U. S. Department of Agriculture[1] –, Public Domain,
Christmas Market By Office de Tourisme de Colmar (Colmar – Christmas Markets 2010) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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About the Author: Tim Hildreth

Lise: Maybe not always. Paris has ways of making people forget. / Jerry: Paris? No, not this city. It's too real and too beautiful. It never lets you forget anything. It reaches in and opens you wide, and you stay that way. / An American in Paris