Pendre la Crémaillère
If you are invited to a pendaison de crémaillère, you may be surprised to find out this has nothing to do with hanging anyone. And not even eating cream of any kind. The expression literally translates to trivet hanging, and is French for housewarming party. It is often shortened to crémaillère only, so you might hear: Je fais ma crémaillère ce soir! – My housewarming is tonight!
Anglophones beware: crémaillère is pronounced cray-mah- yayr - click here for sound. If the second syllable isn't clear enough, you're at high risk of hanging la crémière - i.e. the milkmaid.
The phrase originated in the Middle Ages and is still commonly used to this day. In fact la crémaillère is only used in this expression today.
In former times, once the construction of a house was completed, it was tradition to invite everyone who participated in building the house for a meal. Hosts then cooked a meal in a heavy pot that they would hang on a notched trivet, or rack, in the fireplace.
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 3 or 4 months of moving in, and are either a party or a dinner in the form of a barbecue or drinks and buffet.
There are two types of people when it comes to crémaillères: those who wait until they have furnished and decorated their new home, and those who'd rather have their pendaison among cardboard boxes, for a more authentical feel. As long as no one hangs the crémière...
Faut compter trois semaines, un mois avant qu'on puisse pendre la crémaillère. Claude Sarraute in "Mademoiselle s'il vous plaît."
It will take 3 weeks, a month before we can have a housewarming party.
Je suis invitée à pendre la crémaillère chez mes nouveaux voisins.
I’ve been invited to a house-warming by my new neighbors.
Ne pas manger de ce pain-là
Translated literally as, not eating that kind of bread, this expression means refusing to act in...
Tiré par les cheveux
This somewhat painful expression literally translates to pulled by the hair. You'll often hear...
Appuyer sur le champignon
Do you often dream of stepping on the gas when you drive? Then this common vegetable expression...
Faire la pluie et le beau temps
Wouldn't you feel powerful if you could control the weather? Faire la pluie et le beau temps -...
Pour des prunes
Une prune is a plum - not to be confused with un pruneau, a prune. While this lovely fruit is...
À la queue leu leu
The poetry of those words! They are a favorite of preschoolers. But you will also hear them in...