Babbel’s guide to surviving Christmas for international newlyweds

For newlyweds the world over, one of the trickier questions surrounding the festive period is ‘where shall we spend Christmas this year?’ This is especially difficult for couples that have family in different countries. Language can be a barrier, and, over Christmas dinner with your international in-laws, a well-meant tongue in cheek comment can be misinterpreted, causing unwanted upset and embarrassment.

To help take some of the stress out of Christmas with the international in-laws, the experts at language learning app Babbel have put together a useful guide to help us avoid those fatal miscommunications.

A phrase guide for newlyweds with inlaws from different countries


Newlyweds christmas table​Réveillon – For French families, Christmas begins on the 24th with Le Réveillon - a luxurious dinner, lasting until midnight and consisting of multiple courses. That is not to say, however, that the Christmas Day feast is overlooked. Be prepared to indulge in not one, but two, festive meals.

Festive vocab to impress the inlaws:

How to say Merry Christmas: Joyeux Noël

Special dish: Bûche de Noël (traditional Yule log)

Some sentences to dazzle with:

Merci beaucoup pour le cadeau - je l’adore! - Thanks very much for the present - I love it!

Ce gâteau est délicieux! C'est vous qui l'avez fait? - This cake is delicious! Did you make it?


Los Reyes Magos - Catholicism plays a large part in a Spanish Christmas, with many families continuing the tradition of the Reyes Magos, or 3 Wise Men. These seasonal characters deliver presents to children who leave their shoes outside the front door on the 5th of January - the night before Epiphany.

Festive vocab to impress the inlaws:

How to say Merry Christmas: Feliz Navidad

Special dish: Roscón de reyes (A symbolic cake in which both a white bean and a king are hidden. The lucky finder of the king will be ‘king for the day’ whilst the not so lucky recipient of the white bean must pay for the cake!.)

Some sentences to dazzle with:

Me encanta su casa - iLa decoración de Navidad es preciosa! - I love your house - your Christmas decorations are so lovely!

Este postre ¿podría darme la receta? - This dessert is delicious, could you give me the recipe?



Christmas candleDer Tannenbaum - We all know that the Christmas tree originated in Germany, but for many, this festive centerpiece holds a lot of tradition. In Germany, der Tannenbaum, otherwise known as the fir tree, is not decorated until Christmas Eve, and stays up until 6th of January, the "Holy 3 kings day", when the children will ransack it for the sweets and nuts that it was decorated with.

Festive vocab to impress the inlaws:

How to say Merry Christmas: Frohe Weihnachten

Special dish: Lebkuchen (gingerbread hearts or stars)

Some sentences to dazzle with:

Dein Weihnachtsbaum sieht wunderschön aus! Er ist der schönste, den ich dieses Jahr gesehen habe. - Your Christmas tree looks beautiful! It’s by far the best I’ve seen this season

Vielen Dank für das leckere Essen. Darf ich Ihnen beim Aufräumen helfen? - Thank you so much for this wonderful meal. Can I help clear the table?

Want to learn a bit more seasonal lingo? Babbel has you covered with their bite size lessons, spanning 14 different languages.


Images courtesy of: 

  1. Christmas Table – Pixabay – jill111
  2. Christmas Candle Red Green Flame Berries Holiday – Pixabay - TizzleBDizzle
December 7, 2017

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