How do you say "Merry Christmas" in Japanese?

Question of the Week Vol. 33

Girl and Christmas Tree
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This week's question is: How do you say "Merry Christmas" in Japanese?

There is no Japanese word for "Merry Christmas." People just say it as an English word with Japanese pronunciation: "Merii Kurisumasu メリークリスマス (Click to listen to the pronunciation)." Since it is an English expression, it is written in katakana.

When saying "Happy Birthday" or "Happy New Year," "omedetou (おめでとう)" is used for "Happy ~." The Japanese have adapted many western customs, however phrases like "Happy Valentines," "Happy Easter," "Happy Halloween," or "Happy Holidays" are not widely used.

"Happy New Year" is "Akemashite omdetou" in Japanese. "Akemashite (明けまして)" comes from "toshi ga akeru (a new year is dawning)." Unlike English, "Akemashite omedetou" can not be used before New Year's. "Yoi otoshi o omukae kudasai (良いお年をお迎えください)" or simply "Yoi otoshi o (良いお年を)" is "I wish that you will have a good new year." Click here for the sound files for New Year's greetings.

Tanjoubi omedetou.
Happy Birthday.
Akemashite omedetou.
Happy New Year.

"Omedetou (おめでとう)" is the general way of expressing congratulations. "Omedetou gozaimasu (おめでとうございます)" is used in more formal situations. Click here for more greetings for celebrations.

Go-kekkon omedetou gozaimasu.
Congratulations on your wedding.
Go-sotsugyou omedetou.
Congratulations on your graduation.

Please check out more articles about Christmas.

  • "Christmas Eve" by Tatsuro Yamashita - The Japanese Christmas Song