First let’s address the most important French word for Easter: Pâques. (Pronounce it “pak”).
It’s commonly used without any article (no le, la, les).
Pâques is a plural word, it’s spelled with an S and a circumflex accent.
1 – French Easter Vocabulary
First, let’s learn the French Easter vocabulary:
- Pâques : Easter.
- La Pâque (Juive) : Passover
- Le Carême : Lent
- Le Jeudi Saint : Maundy Thursday
- Le Vendredi Saint : Good Friday
- Le Dimanche des Rameaux : Palm Sunday
- La Semaine Sainte : Holy Week
- Un Défilé Pascal : Easter Procession
- Pascal(e) : adjective “of Easter”.
- Un oeuf : an egg, pronounce it “un neuf”, F pronounced.
- Des oeufs : eggs, pronounce it “dé zeu”, F and S silent.
- Un gigot d’agneau : lamb roast
- Le cloches de Pâques : Flying Easter Bells (see my blog post)
- Des oeufs en chocolat : chocolate eggs
- Le chocolat blanc, noir, au lait – white, dark, milk chocolate
- Un lapin : a rabbit
- Un agneau : a lamb
- L’agneau pascal : Easter lamb
- Un poussin : a chick
- Une poule : a hen
- Un coq : (say the q, sorry, it sounds bad in English but that’s how we say it in French!) a rooster
- Un poisson : a fish
- Une asperge : asparagus
- Une fraise : a strawberry
- Une jonquille : a daffodil
- Une tulipe : a tulip
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2 – Is-it Le, La, Les or just Pâque(s) ?
- La Pâque = Passover = feminine singular, used with a “La” before.
- Pâques = Easter (no le, no la, no les = never used with an article)
Easy enough you’ll tell me. But it’s French, it’s never easy… If we don’t use any article to refer to Easter, we may use adjectives…
The word for Easter is Pâques, masculine singular (even though its written with an S).
- À Pâques prochain = next Easter
- Pâques était venu = Easter came
- Pâques est précédé de la Semaine Sainte = Easter is preceded by the Holy Week
When you talk about events around Easter, so use Easter more like a time than the religious celebration, it’s feminine plural… Go figure!
- Joyeuses Pâques = Happy Easter
- Pâques pluvieuses = Rainy Easter
You can also say “le jour de Pâques”, “la fête de Pâques”…
Dictionaries disagree whether the P of Pâques should always be upper case or not, but the common usage points to an upper case.
Le Lundi de Pâques (Easter Monday) is a public holiday (un jour férié) in France. Everything is closed.
Follow this link to know about the French Traditions for Easter: there are many and my article is full of pictures and fun to read.
You may also be interested in my audio recordings of the French Catholic mass prayers.
What about making a leg of lamb for Easter this year – it’s very easy and Olivier has written a very detailed recipe!
And if you’re not crazy about eating meat on a bone, why not try a lamb tajine for an exotic Easter?