French expression of the day: Pendaison de crémaillère

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 9 Aug, 2019 Updated Fri 9 Aug 2019 09:40 CEST
French expression of the day: Pendaison de crémaillère

If you are invited to a pendaison de crémaillère, you may be surprised to find out this has nothing to do with cream of any kind.


Why do I need to know pendaison de crémaillère?
If you just got a new place, you might want to plan a pendaison de crémaillère by inviting your friends and family - and why not neighbors - to celebrate you moving in. Or if you've fully integrated into your local community, you might be invited to someone else's.
So, what does it mean?
The expression pendaison de crémaillère is French for housewarming party, literally translating to 'trivet hanging'. It tends to be shortened to crémaillère only, so you might hear 'Je fais ma crémaillère ce soir!' - 'My housewarming is tonight!'
The phrase originated in the Middle Ages and is still being used to this day. Many French people do not know where the expression comes from though, so this may be your time to shine.
In former times, once the construction of a house was done, it was tradition to invite everyone who participated in building the house for a meal. Hosts then cooked a meal in a heavy pot they would hang on a notched trivet or rack in the chimney.
This cooking mechanism was the last thing to be set up in the house and turned it into a home for good.
What does a pendaison de crémaillère look like today?
Housewarming parties are usually thrown within three months of moving in, and are either a party or a dinner in the form of a barbecue or drinks and buffet.
In this type of situation, there are two types of people: those who wait to have furnished and decorated entirely their new home, and those who rather have their pendaison de crémaillère among cardboard boxes - because you know, after-party cleaning can be a pain.
If you are invited to one, know it is customary to bring a present to the host, like a candle, a plant or small decorative items, kitchen utensils or simply a nice bottle of wine.


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