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.

French expression of the day: Pendaison de crémaillère
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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French Expression of the Day: Mettre le holà

This might look like a mix of Spanish and French, but it is definitely not Franish.

French Expression of the Day: Mettre le holà

Why do I need to know mettre le holà?

Because you might need to do this if your friends go from laughing with you to laughing at you. 

What does it mean?

Mettre le holà – pronounced meh-truh luh oh-la – literally means to put the ‘holà’ on something. You might be thinking this must be some clever mix of Spanish and French, but ‘holà’ actually has nothing to do with the Spanish greeting. 

This expression is a way to say that’s enough – or to ‘put the brakes on something.’

If a situation appears to be agitated, and you feel the need to intervene in order to help calm things down, then this might be the expression you would use. Another way of saying it in English might be to ‘put the kibosh on it.’

While the origins of ‘kibosh’ appear to be unknown, ‘holà’ goes back to the 14th century in France. Back then, people would shout “Ho! Qui va là?” (Oh, who goes there?) as an interjection to call someone out or challenge them. 

Over time this transformed into the simple holà, which you might hear on the streets, particularly if you engage in some risky jaywalking. 

A French synonym for this expression is ‘freiner’ – which literally means ‘to break’ or ‘put the brakes on,’ and can be used figuratively as well as literally. 

Use it like this

Tu aurais dû mettre le holà tout de suite. Cette conversation a duré bien trop longtemps, et il était si offensif. – You should have put a stop to that immediately. That conversation went on for too long, and he was so offensive. 

J’ai essayé de mettre le holà à la blague sur ma mère, mais ils étaient sans pitié. – I tried to put a stop to the joke about my mother, but they were merciless.