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Mangeoire: a most meaningful French word

Christmas dinner in France family window seat
One year ago, looking in the window at my French family who joined us here for le repas de Noël.

TODAY'S WORD: une mangeoire

        : feeding trough, manger


Là, dans la saleté et entre les animaux, elle mit son bébé au monde. Puis elle l'enveloppa chaudement et, comme il n'y avait pas de berceau, elle le déposa dans *une mangeoire* pour qu'il puisse dormir... There, in the dirt and among the animals, she brought her baby into the world. Then she covered him snugly and, as there was no cradle, she put him in a feeding trough. --from the book "Grande Bible Pour Les Enfants," Chantecler edition

Listen to our son Max pronounce today's French word and example sentence: Download Mangeoire

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE   by Kristi Espinasse

(Story written years ago...when the kids were little)

Reading to my Francophone children in their native tongue is a humbling, sometimes humiliating experience. Not only for the pause pronunciation—child-issued breaks in which I must stop reading in order to repeat a French word that I have tripped up on—but also for the words that I still do not know: both French... and in English.

Thankfully, not all "readings" are cause for reprimand. De temps en temps, there are eye-opening moments when suddenly, more than a word making sense, the world seems to take on new meaning as well.

It was while reading a chapter called "The birth..." or La naissance de Jésus to my daughter that I felt a lump in my throat and a sting in my eyes. An English word with which I've had but a yearly encounter—usually during the holiday season—suddenly defined itself as its French counterpart moved up my vocal chords and exited in a French chorus of sound and meaning. The text preceding the word (indicated between asterisks, below) only served to set the dramatic stage:

Là, dans la saleté et entre les animaux, elle mit son bébé au monde. Puis elle l'enveloppa chaudement et, comme il n'y avait pas de berceau, elle le déposa dans *une mangeoire* pour qu'il puisse dormir...

There, in the filth and between the animals, she brought her baby into the world. Then she wrapped him warmly and, as there was no cradle, she put him down in a *feeding trough* so that he could sleep.

Replacing the word "manger" with "feeding trough", its equivalent, gives the account an even more heartrending effect; "manger" is poetic, while "feeding trough" effectively evokes the brutal bed that was the only resting place for the delicate newborn.

Nativité par Federico Barocci

As for those instances of humiliation—whether in fumbling through French text before a ten-year-old... or in the stories that I have lived that will never be told—my mind now calls up a peaceful bergerie, wherein an unspoiled baby would come to suffer all humility -- Him, instead of me.

une mangeoire = feeding trough
le repas de Noël
= Christmas dinner
de temps en temps
= from time to time
La Naissance de Jésus = The Birth of Jesus
la bergerie (f) = shelter (sheepfold)


MERRY CHRISTMAS! Je vous souhaite un joyeux Noël. And in case you were looking for it, here is the recipe for a classic French cake. (If you cut it into thirds--and stuffed it a bit--it could almost pass for the famous bûche de Noël. That's 3 cakes in one! :-)

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Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Alyssa Eppich

Merci pour tous que vous ecrivez et tout que vous faites! Joyeux Noel a toutes votre famille, Kristie-and Happy New Year, too!


Merry Christmas! Kristi, Jean Marc, Max and Jackie from New York State. I haven't seen snow in 30 years as I moved back here from Florida 6 months ago to be near my daughter. So, you see, life does have many changes. Here's wishing you the very best health and happiness in the New Year. Shirley

Marcia Stoub

Thank you for your heartfelt words about the humble, lowly birth of the Christ child. A reminder to us all about humility.
Christmas blessings to you and your beautiful family, Kristen!


Merry Christmas, Joyeux Noel, Kristen and family - and a happy, healthy New Year!

Pam Wing

Have a lovely Christmas with your family and may the new year bring you much joy.


Joyeux Noel et une tres heureux Nouvelle Annee!
Your post is very meaningful to me. So often we try to "clean up" the events in history to make them more palatable to our western tastes. Reading a new definition of manger makes me appreciate what the first Christmas really was like. Thank you for your insight!

Nyla Witmore

How womderful that the French language...even a single word...can render such depth of meaning.
Loved hearing Max' voice today. Remembering recordings of his voice before the voice pitch changed. He sounds and looks so like JM...and your daughtet so like you. Beautiful family for this beautiful holiday.

Delores DeMay

Joyeux Noel to you and yours, love your blog, living my dream of living in So. France with and handsome man........the best in 2017


Thank you, Kristi, for this beautiful reminder. <3 Best wishes for a warm and happy Christmas and all good fortune in the new year.


Merry Christmas to you and your family. Wishing you all the best in 2017 !

Tippy Spratt

Merry Christmas and Happy New adventures for 2017. I've subscribed for a few years now but first time to comment. I'm interested in doing a newsletter or blog similar to yours but this would be from SE Asia, where I plan to retire in a handful of years or so. I'm actually from Asia but grew up in the USA so I'll be exploring my roots from a tropical island. Any resources or even mentoring, if you're willing would be awesome!

All the best!

Christine Broussard

Joyeux Noël Kristine and Co
J'ai toujours plaisir à lire votre blog et J''ai invité plusieurs francophiles de la region De Washington DC à vous lire
Nos meilleurs vœux pour vous aider à décider ou la lumière VA conduire vos pas et que vous gardiez votre bon moral et désir d'écrire et s'instruire
Christine Briussard


Our dear Kristi
What a beautiful story,written by a beautiful lady,on this beautiful,meaningful day.
What a gift to us!
Joyeux Noel to you and your dear family.
Blessings always
Natalia xo


Merry Christmas. Joyeux Noel. Thank you for the beautiful stories.

Leslie NYC

Joyeux Noel a vous tous!

NYC Trish

Merry, Happy, Love and Joy to you, Jean-Marc, Max, Jacquie, Jules, Kip and Marcia, ta belle-mère- la belle Marie-France- et toute votre famille! Trish et JeanClaude (pas de trait d'union) de New York et Paris

Barbara Mayfield

Happy Holidays Kristi to you and your family.May the new year bring you the joy you so deserve.


Joyeux Noël! Bonne et heureuse année! Tous mes vœux de bonheur et de santé pour vous et votre famille.


The virgin mother, Mary, should not be the only one to give birth to God...we must all give birth to the God within us, or we have missed the point and the message.

May the light, love, and peace of the God within us be with us all, not only at Christmas, but everyday.

Happy Holidays to everyone!


JoyeuxNoel et Bonne Annee a Kristin et sa Famille. Je n'ai pas de famille ici; demain je serais avec des amis. A bientot. Vivian

Cheryl in STL


I'm so glad you re-posted this one. My mom always read Luke 2 to us on Christmas Eve and I did the same when my sons were at home. One year when I was teaching the verb "manger" as a vocabulary word, I finally made the connection! After that each time I taught that verb, I talked about the origins of the English word manger. It is so much more powerful and humbling to think of a feeding trough.

Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année...que 2017 vous apporte beaucoup de bonheur!

Georganne Weydemeyer

Thank you, dear Kristi for such a powerful chapter of your life that we can all understand. Your story meant so much to me !!!


Joyeux Noël Kristi,

Best wishes to you, Jean-Marc, Jackie and Max and for the exciting new adventure ahead. What a joy and gift you are throughout the year to those of us who adore you. Thank you for writing from the depths of your soul and you certainly shine brightly with this one. Being a relatively new widow , and alone this year it was easy falling into the 'Poor Me' mindset and then I read you. As you reminded us, what a lowly entrance to this world Christ made and for a whining me. It was just one of the best 'get over it' for me and you are responsible. I am so grateful for you.
God's richest blessings are asked for you and that beautiful family.


Merry Christmas Dear Family, Your humility before Baby Jesus is a beautiful witness...thank you so much!
God bless you. C-Marie

Sandra M Levine

Joyeux Noel!
Merci for votre travail sur le Français.

Comment esq-ce-que on dit "Happy Hanukkah?"


Merry Christmas and Happy Nee Year!!!!!


Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année à vous et votre chère famille!


🎄Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year! I am fairly new to your blog, but relate to so many aspects and am in a similar stage of life. Blessings to you and yours!! ❤🙏

Francine Huffman

Dear Kristi,
Your blogs always educate me, touch my heart, and strike a chord! May you, Jean-Marc, and your beautiful and gifted children find the perfect abode in the South of France so that you can continue to live your dream in 2017!
I appreciate your wisdom, humility and sense of humor.
Francine H.

Elizabeth Lopez

Joyeux Noël, Kristi. I like what you say today especially. I'm not fluent in French, but I do have a French Bible, and I occasionally enjoy translating portions – especially Psalms – as it always gives me fresh insight. Bless you and your family this season and in the New Year.

Kate and Bill

Je contribue au chœur qui vous souhaite une fete de Noel joyeux, Kristi, et le meilleur 2017 possible. (Hmmm, which tenses, which gender, which verb ending is right, I ask myself, but c'est la pensée qui compte, n'est ce pas?)

With all good wishes. Kate

Leslie NYC

I finally made your yogurt cake today, with a little less sugar + the zest of 2 Meyer lemons. It was delicious and that beautiful golden brown and as easy as everyone said it is to make.
Merci bien!

Joyeux Noel, Kristin. Phil and I are back in Paris celebrating the holidays and staying till January 21 to celebrate or 50th wedding anniversary. On the 23 of January we head to Souillac to visit friends for a month. How far way are you from Souillac. We will have a car and plan on doing some sight seeing. Enjoy your family today! I got to go to Notre Dame after much sécurité. Seems they are nervous around these sort of places. I will enjoy Paris better when the tourists leave!

Twila Koehn

This word "Feeding Trough" brought tears to my eyes. We get so used to the word "manger" as part of the Christmas Story that it hardly makes us stop and think of Our Saviour's lowly birth, and what it means
for us! Sometimes words from another language bring new life to an old word and touch the heart. That is exactly what your post did for me this Christmas Morning. Thank-you for sharing "une mangeoire" with us and it's meaning. " Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift!" II Cor. 9:15

Gordon Lyman

Kristin, it's Christmas morning. I read your words to K. "Humility ... Baby... Manger... Him instead of me..."
She touched her throat. She said "A poem."

Randy Hyatt

Once again you have nailed it on such a
salient point!
No wonder we all love you so much;
You touch our hearts so often!
Merry Christnas to you and all the
Randy Hyatt


Merry Christmas, Kristi. Thank you for the beautiful essay!

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