French Word of the Day: Noces de crêpe

Slightly disappointingly, this isn't actually an extra pancake festival.

French Word of the Day: Noces de crêpe
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know Noces de crêpe?

Well, you might know someone who’s about to celebrate their 39th wedding anniversary.

What does it mean?

Noces de crêpe – the crêpe wedding – is the wedding anniversary that is celebrated after 39 years of marriage in France.

It’s actually got nothing to do with pancakes, it refers to the fabric crêpe.

The word crêpe is derived from the Latin crispus, which means wavy. Over the centuries, that became cresp and then crêpe – the material – and, traditionally, those celebrating their 39th wedding anniversary would exchange gifts made of the fabric that has a distinctive wrinkled and bumpy appearance.

Apparently it indicates the wrinkles and bumps that a couple have survived over the course of their married lives.

In these less traditional days, a gastronomic gift is seen as equally fitting (even pancakes).

All French wedding anniversaries have their own traditional gifts, in the same way as they do in the Anglophone world. They don’t all have the same gifts though.

Intriguingly, a paper wedding anniversary in the US and UK is the first. In France, it’s the 37th. The first anniversary in France is cotton… which is the second in the US and UK.

Use it like this

Joyeux noces des crêpe – Happy 39th wedding anniversary

Anniversary list

1 year – noces de coton (cotton)

2 years – noces de cuir (copper)

3 years : noces de froment (wheat)

4 years : noces de cire (wax)

5 years : noces de bois (wood)

6 years : noces de Chypre (Cyprus)

7 years : noces de laine (wool) 

8 years : noces de coquelicot (poppy)

9 years : noces de faïence (earthenware)

10 years : noces d’étain (pewter)

15 years : noces de cristal (crystal)

20 years : noces de porcelaine (porcelain)

25 years : noces d’argent (silver)

30 years : noces de perle (pearl)

35 years : noces de rubis (ruby)

40 years : noces d’emeraude (emerald) 

50 years : noces d’or (gold)

60 years : noces de diamant (diamond)

70 years : noces de platine (platinum)

Find the full list here.

Member comments

  1. Joyeuses noces de crêpe.
    Joyeuses noces d’or, d’argent.

    Attention le mot noces est féminin.

    Donc joyeuses noces. (Mais Joyeux Noël. Joyeux anniversaire. Noël et anniversaire sont des mots masculins).

    Et crêpe sans S. Ce ne sont pas les crêpes (thin pancakes). On aimerait 😉

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French Expression of the Day: Chercher midi à quatorze heures

This expression doesn't actually have much to do with lunchtime.

French Expression of the Day: Chercher midi à quatorze heures

Why do I need to know chercher midi à quatorze heures?

Because when someone makes what should take fifteen minutes into an hour-long effort, you might want an appropriate phase.

What does it mean?

Chercher midi à quatorze heures – usually pronounced share-shay-mid-ee-ah-cat-orz-ur – literally means “to look for noon at 2 pm.” When taken literally, the expression does not make much sense. However, in practice, it means “to make a simple thing overly complicated.” It is basically the French equivalent of “don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.”

The expression is quite old, but it is still in use…though it might be more common to find it spoken in the countryside rather than on Twitter.

It was first used as early as the 16th century – the version then was “to look for noon at eleven.” As time went on, it changed to reflect its current form in the 17th century. 

As noon is an important marker for the middle of the day, particularly as l’heure de déjeuner (lunch time), the expression makes fun of making something overly difficult. 

You’ll most likely hear this in the negative command form – as it is something you should probably avoid doing.

Use it like this

Pourquoi avoir pris la route la plus longue pour aller au supermarché ? Ne cherchez pas midi à quatorze heures. – Why take the longest route to get to the supermarket? Don’t overcomplicate things.

Tu n’as pas besoin d’essayer toutes les lettres de l’alphabet pour trouver le Wordle. C’est mieux de penser à des mots simples. Ne cherche pas midi à quatorze heures. – You don’t need to try every letter in the alphabet to get the Wordle. Just think of simple words. Don’t over complicate it.