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Welcoming Halloween In French – Mister Jack’s Strange Christmas Posted by on Oct 31, 2018 in Culture, Film, Music

It’s the spookiest night of the year tonight and children all across l’Amérique du nord (North America) will be dressed up in their scariest costumes as they get ready to go door to door looking for tricks and treats. La tradition (the tradition) may not be a long-standing one en France, but with the influence of American films and culture, it is a holiday more and more French kids look forward to every year.

Image from Pixabay. Licensed under CC0.

La clture américaine (American culture) has spread all over the world for a multitude of reasons, but the most obvious one is Hollywood and all things show business. Les filmes américains (American movies) manage to capture the world’s attention and have a very talented team behind them helping to adapt the story and characters to other cultures.

One of les filmes that probably helped spread Halloween to the minds of les jeunes français (young French people) is a famous one from Tim Burton, L’Étrange Noël de monsieur Jack (Miser Jack’s The Strange Christmas, The Nightmare Before Christams in its English title). Le filme more than celebrates the spooky night of le 31 octobre (October 31st), but also fits in the idea of a quick transition to the winter holiday season.

Le filme was a huge success all over the world and Jack Skellington, the protagonist of the story, can now be found everywhere from Disneyland Paris to Disneyland Tokyo. The power of Disney behind le filme helped ensure the localization and translation of all the jokes and songs was completed with an incredible attention to detail and, as a result, likely helped spread Halloween across the world. For les amateurs de la langue française (people who like the French language) it also opened up doors for learning more French!

D’un coté (on one hand), there is a fun and familiar song that you can start singing in the shower to keep your studies from feeling like les devoirs (homework). De l’autre (on the other hand), the differences in les paroles (the lyrics) provide insight into la culture française (French culture) and the hard to understand feeling of what simply sounds better to native French speakers.

To really get an idea, here’s a few lines from the most famous song from le filme, Bienvenue à Halloween (Welcome to Halloween, This Is Halloween in the English version):

C’est la ville de la nuit
Les citrouilles chantent et les chauves sourient
On plaisante, on fait des bêtises
On ne sait pas quelle sera la prochaine surprise !

It’s the town of night
Thhe pumpkins sing and the baldies smile
We joke, we do stupid things
We don’t know what will be the next surprise

There are few subtle jeux de mots (puns) hidden in les paroles that can be easy to miss:

Les citrouilles chantent can mean both the pumpkins sing and the idiots sing.
Les chauves sourient means the baldies smile, but it sounds exactly like chuave-souris (bat), which adds to the spooky atmosphere.

For comparison, here’s the same lines from the English version of la chanson:

In this town we call home
Everyone hail to the pumpkin song
In this town, don’t we love it now?
Everybody’s waiting for the next surprise

Heureusement (fortunately), the whole song doesn’t change that much, making it easy to follow along if you know la chanson anglaise (the English song). Take a moment to listen to Bienvenue à Halloween, the French version of the catchy song from L’Étrange Noël de monsieur Jack!

Voici la chanson avec les paroles et une traducion anglaise :

Bienvenue à Halloween
Welcome to Halloween

Voulez-vous voir un monde étrange
Où l’on aime les démons mais pas les anges ?
Suivez-nous, venez visiter
Notre magnifique cité
Voici Halloween, voici Halloween
Les citrouilles vont mourir de trouille !

Would you like to see a strange world
Where we love demons, not angels?
Follow us, come visit
Our wonderful city
Here’s Halloween, here’s Halloween
Pumpkins will die of fear!

C’est ça Halloween, tout le monde a mauvaise mine
C’est normal ! C’est pour terroriser les fripouilles !
Minuit sonne… C’est l’heure du crime
Bienvenue à Halloween !

This is Halloween, everybody looks dreadful
It’s normal! It’s meant to terrorize scoundrels!
Midnight strikes… It’s crime time
Welcome to Halloween!

Moi, je me cache sous votre lit le soir
Mes dents, mes yeux brillent dans le noir
Moi, je me cache sous votre escalier
Doigts de serpents et cheveux d’araignées
C’est ça Halloween, c’est ça Halloween
Halloween ! Halloween ! Halloween… Halloween…

I hide under your bed at night
My teeth, my eyes shine in the dark
I hide under your stairs
Snakes for fingers and spiders for hair
This is Halloween, this is Halloween
Halloween! Halloween! Halloween… Halloween…

C’est la ville de la nuit
Les citrouilles chantent et les chauves sourient
On plaisante, on fait des bêtises
On ne sait pas quelle sera la prochaine surprise !

It’s the town of night
The pumpkins sing and the baldies smile
We joke, we do stupid things
We don’t know what will be the next surprise!

Au coin de la rue,
Il y a des inconnus
Qui surgissent des poubelles pour vous faire peur!
C’est ça Halloween !
Rouge et noir…
Gélatine !
Quelle horreur !
C’est un enfer !

At the street corner
There are strangers
Who pop out of trashcans to scare you!
This is Halloween!
Red and black…
Gelatin!
How horrid!
It’s a living hell!

Par le feu, par la glace
Il faut jouer à pile ou face
Et s’envoler à tombeau ouvert !
C’est la ville du crime ! C’est la ville du crime !
Bienvenue à Halloween !

With fire, with ice
You have to toss a coin
And to flee as fast as you can!*
It’s the town of crime! It’s the town of crime!
Welcome to Halloween!

*litterally: “You have to flee with an open tomb!”

Je perds la tête, quelquefois je l’arrache
Avant de disparaître dans un flash
Je suis le mort qui prend le mors aux dents…
Je suis le vent qui vous glace le sang…
Moi, je me glisse comme une ombre noire
Et je transforme vos rêves en cauchemars !
C’est ça Halloween, c’est ça Halloween
Halloween ! Halloween ! Halloween… Halloween…
Halloween ! Halloween !

I lose my head, sometimes I tear it off
Before vanishing with a flash
I am death dashing at full speed…*
I am the wind freezing your blood…
I slip in like a dark shadow
And I turn your dreams into nightmares!
This is Halloween, this is Halloween
Halloween! Halloween! Halloween… Halloween…
Halloween! Halloween!

*Litterally: “I am death taking the bit between your teeth…”

Il y a des enfants beaucoup trop sages
On préfère ceux qui ont la rage !
On fait peur… Mais on se domine
Dans la ville d’Halloween !
On plaisante
On fait des bêtises
Tout le monde attend la prochaine surprise !

Some children are way too wise
We prefer the ones who rage!
We scare… but we keep control
In the town of Halloween!
We joke
We do stupid things
Everybody waits for the next surprise!

Si Jack le squelette, sans tambours ni trompettes
Surgit dans votre dos, vous ne ferez pas de vieux os !
C’est ça Halloween ! C’est la ville du crime !
Bienvenue à l’épouvantable épouvantail !

If Jack the skeleton, without drums or trumpets
Appears from behind, you won’t make any old bones!
This is Halloween! It’s the town of crime!
Welcome the ghastly bogeyman!

Bravo Jack ! T’es un crack !
Vive notre nouveau roi !
Jack la gargouille est le roi des citrouilles !
C’est ça Halloween, c’est ça Halloween
Halloween ! Halloween ! Halloween… Halloween…

Bravo Jack! You’re a crackerjack
Long live our new king!
Jack the gargoyle is the pumpkin king!
This is Halloween, this is Halloween
Halloween! Halloween! Halloween… Halloween…

C’est la ville de la nuit…
Les citrouilles chantent et les chauves sourient

It’s the town of night
The pumpkins sing and the baldies smile

Traslation from LyricsTranslate.

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About the Author:John Bauer

John Bauer is an enthusiast for all things language and travel. He currently lives in France where he's doing his Master's. John came to France four years ago knowing nothing about the language or the country, but through all the mistakes over the years, he's started figuring things out.


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