French translation question

So it’s that time of year that I pull out the old keyboard and play some Christmas songs. I recently finished an improvised version of Jingle Bells, and, by the end, I was singing along the French version I learned as a child. A quick look at Google found the variation in the form I remember. Tintez cloches, tintez cloches,
Tintez dans la nuit.
Père Noël et ses grands daims
Arrivent à fond de train.
Tintez cloches, tintez cloches,
Tintez dans la nuit.
Le miracle recommence
Rève de tout-petits.
I attempted to translate this manually, using what little French I remember from grade school and my trusty French-English dictionary. It literally parses as follows:Ring [you] bells. Ring [you] bells.
Ring through the night.
Father Chrstmas and his big reindeer
Arrive at full speed [lit. at (the) bottom of (the) train]
Ring [you] bells. Ring [you] bells.
Ring through the night.
The miracle starts-again
Dream from/by/of/than/in/with babies/toddlersIf you can’t tell, it’s the last line that’s giving me problems. “Dream of toddlers” would seem the most likely, except that rève is a noun, not a verb. And I can find no version that uses a form of rêver (to dream) instead. This makes it the only line without a verb.

But, even if I allow that “dream of toddlers” is the correct literal translation, it still makes no sense. There must be a figurative meaning of some sort that eludes me.

So, to sum it all up: What does “Reve de tout-petits” mean?

Note: Google gave me “dream of toddlers” as well.

It’s true that the syntax is kind of odd, but that’s because it’s a poem. The last two lines go together: “Le miracle recommence/Rêve de tout-petits.” In other words, the (Christmas) miracle, which is starting again, is what the little ones are dreaming of. (Tout-petit doesn’t exactly mean toddler, it can mean a child as old as kindergartener age.)

A way to translate these lyrics into English might be
The miracle starts again
As in children’s dreams

but I don’t think that’s very good. Maybe you can find a way to improve it.

I’ve never heard this version, by the way. The French version of Jingle Bells I’m familiar with, and hear very often this time of the year, is Vive le vent. (Note that it’s not really a translation either, more like another song with the same melody.)

what all children dream of.

The miracle starts again,
the little ones’ dream.

It’s a sort of appositive; it means that the miracle is the children’s dream. There’s no verb. (“Les tout-petits” means “the little ones.”)

Thanks, guys! That makes a lot of sense. Also, I thought about “tout-petits” just meaning “little ones”, as that would be a more literal meaning. But even the online dictionaries said it meant toddlers. I was honestly thinking, “So, in France, you stop believing in Santa at 3?”

I may try for a more poetic translation sometime. Metrically at least, I could see the last two lines being “The miracle will start again/In children’s fantasies,” though it gets rid of my first impression: this song is to encourage kids to hurry and get to sleep so Father Christmas* can come.

*Who is NOT Santa.

I dunno. Here, Père Noël is the same character as the American Santa Claus.

Yeah, it’s just a pet peeve. I know that the traditions are merging. But I feel equating the two leaves out their separate histories. The American Santa Claus is really a merging of the different traditions of two separate characters: Father Christmas and Saint Nicolas. [Pere Noel](Père Noël) was traditionally much close to Father Christmas than Saint Nicolas.

But I guess my prejudices shouldn’t be involved in a translation, even a poetic one. I need to find out when these lyrics (which are an alternative chorus to Vive le Vent mentioned above) were written, so I can make a much better guess on what the writer really means.

I’m actually now leaning towards Santa, as Père Noël traditionally had a donkey, not reindeer.

BTW, I learned this song in my elementary school French class. I’m sure the teacher picked the variation that was closer to the English version.

In translating it is sometimes necessary to move away from a literal rendition to get the sense across. I would probably give ‘le miracle recommence’ as ‘the miracle is renewed’.

I thought it meant that the little ones dream of the Christmas miracle right off. But more interestingly I never thought that in the English version, “jingle bells” might be an imperative. I thought “jingle bells” were the little round ball-shaped bells, and that in the song the phrase is uttered as an exclamation. It never occurred to me that the singer might be exhorting the listener to grab the nearest bell and jingle it.

Now that I think about it, I remember something I’ve read in Quebec historian Marcel Trudel’s autobiography which I’m currently reading. Quebec was of course influenced both by France and the US, and when he was a child in the 1920s Trudel knew of both Saint Nicolas and Santa Claus (whose name he knew in English). It was only when he got older that he figured out that these two characters were actually the same.