Japanese

How Do You Say Merry Christmas in Japanese? Learn it Now!

Christmas is a holiday celebrated all around the world, and that includes Japan too! Although it is not as big in Japan as it is in America, you can still enjoy many of the same traditions and even a few more. How do you say Merry Christmas in Japanese?

  • メリークリスマス!
    merii kurisumasu!
    Merry Christmas!

Since Japan has only recently started celebrating this holiday, they’ve just taken the English phrase and turned it into a Japanese one with Katakana.

The Big Guy in Red Santa Claus goes by either サンタさん (Santa-san) or サンタクロース (Santa Kurōsu) and brings presents, or プレゼント (purezento), to all the boys and girls of Japan.

He also might get called おじさん (ojisan) since that’s a pretty common way to address an older guy.

Speaking of presents, this brings us to how the holiday is similar to Western culture:

  • Gift giving
  • Christmas cards
  • Spending time with loved ones

But there are some things that are distinctly Japanese about how it is celebrated over in Japan.

First off, even though it is a holiday, it’s not considered a National Holiday which means that you will still have to go do work that day. Bummer!

Secondly, Christmas Eve is usually considered a bigger deal than Christmas Day and is very often used as a time for romance with your girlfriend or boyfriend. Just watch some slice of life anime to see this one in action.

Thirdly, and perhaps the best of the bunch, they celebrate by eating fried chicken! Apparently when the tradition of Christmas was fairly new in Japan, Kentucky Fried Chicken ran an ad campaign in Japan saying that you should celebrate with a bucket of fried chicken.

|Image credit: Wei-Te Wong|

I mean, why not right?

Well it worked!

Now you can get all kinds of special deals from KFC and other friend chicken places just for Christmas. Who would have thought?

What else is there…

Well they like to eat Christmas cake, just like the emoji on your phone: 🍰

As you can see, it’s a sponge cake with some whipped cream and a strawberry. Yum! (^_^)b

Some Useful Phrases

Here are a few different phrases that you might find useful if you’re in Japan around Christmas time.

  • メリークリスマス!
    merii kurisumasu!
    Merry Christmas!
  • 良い冬休みを!
    ii fuyu yasumi wo!
    Have a good winter break!
  • 良い休暇を!
    ii kyūka wo!
    Happy holidays!
  • 休暇を楽しんでね!
    kyūka wo tanoshin de ne!
    Enjoy the holidays!

And what if you wanted to talk about reindeer in Japanese? Well all you have to do is learn the Japanese word トナカイ (tonakai).

At first glance you might think that this is a loan word since it’s written in Katanaka. But it’s actually one of those cases where an animal’s name is written in katakana even though it’s a native Japanese word.

The kanji for reindeer is 馴鹿 but it isn’t very common to see it written that way. can be used to mean tame and 鹿 is the kanji for deer.

What about Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer? You could call him 真っ赤なお鼻のトナカイさん (makka na ohana no tonakai san).

If you want to know how to sing Rudolf’s song in Japanese, you can check it out here.

Now I want to hear from you!

Have you spent Christmas in Japan before? What other unique traditions do that Japanese celebrate for the holiday?

Leave a comment and let me know!

2 Comments

  • Gini

    That was a fun post. I got to learn a few useful phrases for the holiday season. I plan to use it on some of my friends. Do you also have some special sweets made during this time? While the year is closing, can you tell me how do you say, “A very happy and prosperous New Year” in japan?

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