Joyeuses fêtes means “Happy holidays” in French.
The fêtes in question are les fêtes de fin d’année (end-of-year/winter holidays): Christmas, New Year’s, and to a lesser extent other religious celebrations, including Hanukkah.
A majority of people in France celebrate Christmas in some way. For some, it’s a religious holiday, while it’s a family celebration or even just a few selected nice traditions to participate in, for others. New Year’s is also a major celebration in France, especially because it’s a secular holiday that everyone can participate in. That’s why you’ll probably most often hear Joyeux Noël (Merry Christmas) or Bonne année as French holiday greetings. Still, Joyeuses fêtes is fairly common and will certainly be understood if you choose to say it.
So, if you’re in France during the holidays and talking to someone or to a group of people who you’re not certain celebrate(s) Christmas, you can share your holiday cheer and good wishes by saying Joyeuses fêtes !
You may also come across its alternative form, Bonnes fêtes !
- Happy Holidays!
- Bonnes fêtes !
- Je vous souhaite d’excellentes fêtes de fin d’année (“I wish you an excellent holiday season.” – A much more formal French holiday greeting.)
- Meilleurs vœux (“Season’s Greetings.” (Note that this phrase only means Season’s greetings when said during the holiday season; otherwise it means the more general “Best wishes”.))