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Using prepositions with name days, like Saint Valentine's Day

Look at these examples:

On est sortis à la Saint-Valentin.
We went out on Valentine's Day.

Le jour de la Saint-Valentin, tu passes du temps avec ton bien-aimé.
On Valentine's Day, you spend time with your loved one.

À la Sainte-Catherine, les femmes célibataires mangent du gâteau.
On St Catherine's Day, single women eat cake.

Le jour de la Sainte-Catherine, les femmes célibataires mangent du gâteau.
On St Catherine's Day, single women eat cake.

Je suis né à la Saint-Georges.
I was born on St George's day.

Je suis né le jour de la Saint-Georges.
I was born on St George's day.

Note that when talking about doing something on a name day, you can use either:

à la + Saint(e) [name] 
or 
le jour de la + Saint(e) [name].

While à la is more general, le jour de la insists a bit more on the very day.

In French, name days are feminine, even with masculine names. 
It's because they're considered as la fête de = the celebration of that name.

Therefore, you will always say à la + [name day], or le jour de la + [name day]. 

 

This rule also applies to All Saints' Day = la Toussaint :

À la Toussaint en France, les gens ne travaillent pas.
On All Saints' Day in France, people don't work.

Le jour de la Toussaint, on met des fleurs sur la tombe des gens que l'on a perdus.
On All Saints' Day, we put flowers on the grave of people we lost.

 

Also see Using prepositions with celebration days, like Christmas

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Je me souviens, c'était à la St Jean.
I remember, it was on St John's Day.


Je suis né à la Saint-Georges.
I was born on St George's day.


Le jour de la Sainte-Catherine, les femmes célibataires mangent du gâteau.
On St Catherine's Day, single women eat cake.


Le jour de la Saint-Valentin, tu passes du temps avec ton bien-aimé.
On Valentine's Day, you spend time with your loved one.


À la Sainte-Catherine, les femmes célibataires mangent du gâteau.
On St Catherine's Day, single women eat cake.


On est sortis à la Saint-Valentin.
We went out on Valentine's Day.


À la Toussaint en France, les gens ne travaillent pas.
On All Saints' Day in France, people don't work.


Le jour de la Saint-Jean, on fait un grand feu de joie.
On St John's Day, we have a big bonfire.


Le jour de la Toussaint, on met des fleurs sur la tombe des gens que l'on a perdus.
On All Saints' Day, we put flowers on the grave of people we lost.


Je suis né le jour de la Saint-Georges.
I was born on St George's day.


Q&A

Meghna

Kwiziq community member

27 April 2017

3 replies

Specific day

Why would the day of birth be à la? I understand from the text that a la is generally ´the day' and le jour de is a specific day. On the question Laurent est né ________ Saint-Patrick, the answer is contradictory. Please help clarify.

Ron

Kwiziq community member

27 April 2017

27/04/17

Bonjour Meghna,
The lesson example is thus:
Note that when talking about doing something on a name day, you can use both à la + Saint(e) name or le jour de la + Saint(e) name.
While à la is more general, le jour de la insists a bit more on the very day.
Note also that in French name days are feminine, even with masculine names. It's because they're considered as la fête de (the celebration of) that name.
Therefore, you will always say à la + name day, or le jour de la + name day.
Je suis né à la Saint-Georges.
(I was born on St George's day.)
Je suis né le jour de la Saint-Georges.
(I was born on St George's day.)

Laurent est né à la (fête de) Saint-Patrick [more general]
Laurent est né le jour de (la fête de) Saint-Patrick [the very day]

Another way of looking at this is with the phrase: salade à la Niçoise
which could be translated salad in the Nice manner, a somewhat generalized
description. Looking at it in this manner helped me to differentiate because
la salade de Niçoise is much more specific in meaning.
This was a very good question; I had not learned this previously, myself.
Merci!

Meghna

Kwiziq community member

27 April 2017

27/04/17

Thanks Ron.
Then does this mean that I should not have been marked wrong for using le jour de in the question in my original query?

Ron

Kwiziq community member

2 May 2017

2/05/17

It may be that

sue

Kwiziq community member

23 February 2017

1 reply

date please!!

when you mention these feast days could you give the date on which they occur. thank you

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

10 March 2017

10/03/17

Bonjour Sue !

Here are the dates of the days mentioned in the lesson:

La Sainte-Catherine = le 25 novembre
La Saint-Jean = le 24 juin
La Saint-George = le 23 avril
La Saint-Valentin = le 14 février

Bonne journée !
Let me take a look at that...