How to say “happy Thanksgiving” in French?

Unlike Americans and Canadians, French people don’t celebrate Thanksgiving,

In fact, the only thing most French people know about Thanksgiving is that it’s a day where Americans eat turkeys.

This may sound surprising, but it’s actually logical if you consider the history of Thanksgiving.

How to say “happy Thanksgiving” in French!

Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated in France but to say “happy Thanksgiving” in French, you can say Joyeux Thanksgiving or Joyeuse Action de grâce in Canadian French.

How come the French don’t celebrate Thanksgiving?

After their arrival in America, settlers quickly faced a problem, their food supplies were getting smaller and smaller.

So they decided to start growing plants.

When the first harvest came in 1621, they decided to celebrate.

Thus was born Thanksgiving.

Considering the origin of Thanksgiving, its absence in France makes complete sense.

That’s also why there is no special way to say thanksgiving in French. We use the English word.

If you live in France and would like to celebrate Thanksgiving, I wish you good luck.

Not only are you not going to get a day-off, you will also have a hard time finding all the food you need for a proper Thanksgiving.

Your best bet is to find a group of other Americans or to go to one of these American stores in Paris.

What about Black Friday?

Black Friday doesn’t exist in France, because it’s not part of French culture. But even if it was, it would be much more regulated than it is in the US or in Canada. French shops have to follow a strict schedule for sales and can’t randomly decide to do sales.

My first encounter with black Friday was when I once saw people fighting over a discounted bag on TV, and that’s most likely what most French people have in mind when they hear “Black Friday”.

Have you ever celebrated Thanksgiving in France?

Celebrating Thanksgiving in France can be a real challenge. Have you ever tried to do it? Would you miss Thanksgiving if you couldn’t celebrate it?

Photo credit: evgenyb / 123RF

Benjamin Houy

Benjamin Houy is a native French speaker and tea drinker with a BA degree in Applied Foreign Languages and a passion for languages. After teaching French and English in South Korea for 7 months as part of a French government program, he created French Together™ to help English speakers learn the 20% of French that truly matters.

14 thoughts on “How to say “happy Thanksgiving” in French?”

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  1. Not only Thanksgiving bring traditional food. It is a huge tradition that brings families together. America is such a Large country, where people tend to work & spread all over the land.
    Thanksgiving being on a Thursday every year, tends to extend ob being a 4 day Holiday for many. Which make it perfect for a long weekend to get away to go on some trip, to go home to see families. And celebrate Thanksgiving together.
    It’s of my , 2nd, favorite time (Holiday) of the year, next to Christmas.
    I love crowds, & celebrating w/ people I usually only see once or twice a year.

  2. In the province of Quebec, it is referred to as : L’action de grace and is generally not celebrated by secular French Canadians but is celebrated by some. The origins of thanksgiving are different for Canadians and Americans, and are not celebrated on the same day at all, with the Canadian thanksgiving being earlier.

      • Merci, Benjamin. Je ne parle pas couramment le français. Je regardais votre site Web pour améliorer mon français. J’apprécie le renvoi aux autres sites. Je vois que Francais Authentique est votre site. Merci de m’avoir aidé à trouver le meilleur programme pour améliorer mes compétences en français.

        • Ah non, Français Authentique n’est pas mon site, mais Johan (le créateur de Français Authentique) fait du très bon boulot :).

  3. We don’t celebrate thanksgiving in England either. We have just started having Black Friday but that is any excuse to drum up sales.

  4. I have spent one thanksgiving here in frnace and have not had a problem finding the fooďs that I need to cook a thanksgiving meal. Except collard greens lol but the rest of the foods are here. You may have to make more of it from scratch but it’s here.

  5. My close ones and I have long eschewed the traditional meal. Not one of us likes turkey. So, we always have a wonderful dinner that changes each year. This year, we just had wilted spinach salad (don’t let the wilted business fool you), a crown roast of lamb, an artisinal cheese board, asparagus, pumpkin pie (all agreed on that), and all sorts of individually contributed items. It’s the get-together which made it special.


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